DALLAS—A stash of rare movie posters discovered under a linoleum floor in York County, Pennsylvania, sold for a combined $219,000 in Heritage Auctions’ Vintage Poster Auction Nov. 21-22 in Dallas. The $2+ million auction offered seldom seen rarities from Hollywood’s golden age of film and poster art, with collectors eyeing never-before-seen posters hidden away for more than 60 years. Owner Robert Basta said the trove will fund his retirement nest egg.
“You always hear about these stories and I never believed it would happen to our family,” Basta said following the auction. “We are beyond thrilled with the results—we feel truly blessed.”
The stash was discovered when Robert’s sons Bob and Dylan removed a dated linoleum floor during a renovation project at the home. The discovery uncovered the only-known surviving examples of five rare posters, making them true pieces of Hollywood history, said Grey Smith, Director of Vintage Posters at Heritage.
One-of-a-kind posters saw intense bidder interest as a Style D one sheet poster for Tarzan The Ape Man (MGM, 1932) sold for $83,650; the only known one sheet poster for Any Old Port, a 1932 MGM short starring the comedy duo Laurel and Hardy sold for $8,962; and the only-known one sheet poster for Clark Gable’s first starring role in Sporting Blood (MGM, 1931) sold for $2,987. The stash also held a movie poster for MGM’s 1932 bad-girl classic Red Headed Woman, which sold for $77,675, and a one sheet poster for Doctor X (First National, 1932), which sold for $23,900.
“Collectors and historians didn’t even know some of these posters existed before this discovery,” Smith said. “Rare finds are still out there and you never know when a missing piece of history will be filed in.”
The auction also fetched top prices for rare, pre-war releases for classics as an Italian two-foglio poster for Casablanca (Warner Brothers, 1948) sold for $95,600 and a window card for Frankenstein (Universal, 1931) sold for $89,625. A Swedish oversized poster for King Kong (RKO, 1933) brought $31,070.
Sleepers range from a one sheet for the 1927 Universal short Oswald the Lucky Rabbit in Great Guns!, a rare cartoon by Walt Disney, which sold for $37,045 against an $8,000 estimate to an unusual, studio-issued cloth banner for The Batman (Columbia, 1943) sold for $26,290 against a $5,000 estimate. A one sheet for Little Rural Riding Hood (MGM, 1949), the last in the series of Tex Avery’s “Red Hot Riding Hood” cartoons, sold for $16,730 against a $6,000 estimate.
Stunning sci-fi and monster movie posters saw intense bidder interest as a one sheet for Creature From the Black Lagoon (Universal International, 1954) sold for $21,510 and a one sheet for Things to Come (United Artists, 1936) brought $20,315. A dramatic three sheet poster for Son of Kong (RKO, 1933) sold for $17,925.
Additional highlights include, but are not limited to:
It’s a Wonderful Life (RKO, 1946): Realized: $16,730.
Jezebel (Warner Brothers, 1938): Realized: $15,535.
The Bride of Frankenstein (Universal, 1935), a full-bleed Swedish one sheet: Realized: $15,535.
A rare, Advance British Quad/Quad Crown Style A poster for the James Bond classic Thunderball (United Artists, 1965) sold for $13,145 to lead the highly-respected James Bond/Ian Fleming collection of Gary Firuta.
Heritage Auctions is the largest auction house founded in the United States and the world’s third largest, with annual sales of approximately $900 million, and 950,000+ online bidder members. For more information about Heritage Auctions, and to join and receive access to a complete record of prices realized, with full-color, enlargeable photos of each lot, please visit HA.com.