Dallas, Texas - Among the highlights in Heritage Auctions’ Animation Art auction Dec. 8-9 in Beverly Hills, California, will be a trove of memorabilia celebrating the 90th birthday of Mickey Mouse and the one of the largest collections of artwork by Mary Blair ever offered, many of which come directly from the Mary Blair Family Trust.
Mickey Mouse Celebrates 90th
The industry that is Disney, evolving to printed and animated comics, television shows, movies, theme parks and endless merchandising opportunities first took off because of the enormous popularity of Mickey Mouse. In honor of his 90th birthday, the auction includes 66 lots relating to the comic icon, including what is believed to be the single largest collection of artwork from his earliest films, including Steam Boat Willie (estimate: $10,000+), Plane Crazy (estimate: $5,000+), Barn Dance (estimate: $1,000+) and The Opry House (estimate: $1,000+), as well as from timeless classics like Fantasia.
The selection, the best Heritage Auctions has ever brought to market, also includes rare lots from his greatest roles, including The Sorcerer’s Apprentice in Fantasia (estimate: $2,500+) and his roles in Two-Gun Mickey (estimate: $7,500+), The Brave Little Tailor (estimate: $2,500+) and The Mickey Mouse Club. The range of Mickey Mouse artwork spans his first roles at the studio through original artwork from his most recently video game, Epic Mickey. The selection includes animation drawings, production cels, layout drawings, original paintings, bronze statues and even the coveted Walt Disney Studio Mousecar Award (estimate: $5,000+).
The 66 lots of Mickey Mouse artwork in the auction include, but are not limited to:
A Steamboat Willie Mickey Mouse and Pete Animation Drawing Original Art (Walt Disney, 1928) comes from the historic cartoon that premiered Nov. 18, 1928, at the Colony Theater. The short was directed by Disney, who also provided Mickey’s voice. With artwork by Disney Legend inductee Ub Iwerks, this image (estimate: $10,000+) is considered a Holy Grail-caliber piece of Disney art, partly because animation drawings with both characters are extremely rare. The image comes from the scene in which Pete grabs Mickey and throws him into the bin to peel potatoes.
A Mickey Mouse Early Publicity Artwork Signed by Walt Disney (Walt Disney, c. early 1930s) is a salute to the mouse who Disney famously said “started it all.” This early studio original publicity illustration of Mickey in his early 1930s design includes his classic “pie slice” eyes and double brow. In ink and gouache on lightweight board, the image shows Mickey in his standard fan-card waving pose in artwork that has a Les Clark feel to it. The lot even includes a bold ink inscription and verified signature that reads, “Best Regards to Erie St. Claire Walt Disney.” The hand-signed signature is in the style Disney used in the 1920s and 1930s. This is one of the earliest Disney-signed pieces of original Mickey Mouse art ever seen at Heritage Auctions.
With a pre-auction estimate of $5,000+, Steamboat Willie Mickey Mouse Animation Drawing Original Art (Walt Disney, 1928) is an outstanding and extremely rare 12-field, 2-peghole animation drawing of Mickey Mouse from his first widely released cartoon. After Pete kicks Mickey, who falls down the stairs, Mickey is met by a laughing parrot; Mickey responds by throwing a pail of water over the parrot’s head. This Disney-directed short, in which most of the animation was done by Iwerks, was ranked No. 13 in Jerry Beck’s book: The 50 Greatest Cartoons.
Another lot carrying the same $5,000+ pre-auction estimate, Plane Crazy Minnie Mouse and Mickey Mouse Animation Drawing Original Art (Walt Disney, 1928-29) comes from the silent film that was shown first to a test audience May 15, 1928; it also was shown on the very first Disneyland television show in 1954. This rare 12-field, 2-peghole ode to Charles Lindbergh is considered a milestone in Disney Studio and Mickey Mouse history.
The art of Mary Blair, Walt Disney’s favorite artist
Blair was a 20th-century artist renowned for her Disney artwork, which was so highly regarded that it earned her a 1991 induction into the Disney Legends group and established her as Walt Disney’s favorite artist. Some of her artwork in the auction comes from the Mary Blair Family Trust. Blair, whose artwork include concept art for films like Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Song of the South and Cinderella, is notorious for her 90-foot-high mural that remains a focal point of Disney’s Contemporary Resort at Walt Disney World in Florida. The offered Contemporary Resort Hotel Tile Display Prototype (Walt Disney, 1971) carries a pre-auction estimate of $50,000+.
“The significance of this auction can not be overstated, when it comes to the appeal to serious collectors of animation art,” Heritage Auctions Animation Art Director Jim Lentz said. “This sale includes work from one of the most popular Disney artists of all time, and perhaps the most popular comic character ever created. This auction really does have something that will appeal to collectors of all levels.”
The It’s a Small World, After All attraction at Disneyland opened April 22, 1964 at the New York World’s Fair, with the proceeds from the more than 10 million tickets sold going to UNICEF. Offered here is Blair artwork for two of the attraction’s most popular rides. An “It’s a Small World” Park Ride Penguin Prop (Walt Disney, 1964), which some consider the “Holy Grail” of Blair props, was refurbished and given to the Blair family when the ride was closed briefly for renovation in 2008. The prop (estimate: $25,000) later was given to the Mary Blair Family Trust by Marty Sklar and exhibited around the world. Carrying the same pre-auction estimate is an “It’s a Small World” Disneyland Ride "Blue Hair Boy" Statue (Walt Disney, 1964), which now can be seen in Disney theme parks in Orlando, Florida, Paris, Tokyo and Hong Kong. Removed during the 2008 renovation that closed the ride from January to November, it was refurbished and given to the Mary Blair Family Trust by Sklar, and has been a part of Mary Blair exhibitions around the world, and can be seen in John Canemaker’s Magic, Color, Flair: The World of Mary Blair.
Also carrying a $25,000 pre-auction estimate is Cinderella Coach and Castle Concept Painting by Mary Blair (Walt Disney, 1950). “Goodness me, it’s getting late. Hurry up dear, the ball can't wait!” says the Fairy Godmother to Cinderella as she enters the coach and takes off for the castle. One of the most impressive known Blair Cinderella pieces, this large original painting of Cinderella in her coach, racing up to the castle, has it all: the coach, the white horses and the full moon in a cloudy sky, all rendered in gouache on illustration board.
The auction includes one of the largest Peanuts/Charlie Brown animation art collections ever offered, in which some of the projected highlights include:
The auction features animation art of countless favorite stories and characters. Other top lots include, but are not limited to: