Monstrous “Frankenstein” Three Sheet Poster Could Bring $100,000 at Heritage Auctions

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DALLAS—Hot on the heels of November's sale of the most valuable movie poster ever sold at a public auction, Heritage Auctions' Movie Poster Signature Auction returns March 28-29 with a selection of large-size rarities never before offered to collectors. A monstrously-sized Style C three-sheet movie poster for Frankenstein (Universal, 1931)—the only copy known to exist—lurches ahead of the group with a $100,000+ pre-auction estimate.

"Only a small handful of one sheets including one teaser, one six sheet, one insert, and a restored half sheet are all that have appeared of the Frankenstein posters," said Grey Smith, Director of Movie Posters at Heritage, "and this poster is the only known copy of either of the two style three sheets created for the debut of the film."

The three-sheet poster was found in the early 1970s in a long closed and boarded over projection booth in a remodeled theater. It had apparently been used as a display for a number of reissues of the film with its counterpart for Dracula, as was so often the case throughout the 1930s and 1940s. After expert restoration, the poster is electric in its depiction of the monster and a vulnerable Mae Clarke as Elizabeth, Dr. Frankenstein's fiancée. 

The three sheet is one of more than 30 lots associated with the Frankenstein movie and its sequels, including a scarce Argentinean poster for The Bride of Frankenstein (Universal, 1935), an incredible stone litho poster featuring a close-up of actor Boris Karloff (est. $20,000+). 

Another stand out three-sheet in the auction, is from the 1927 classic Lon Chaney film London After Midnight (MGM, 1927). Heritage set a world record in November 2014 when it sold the only-known U.S. one sheet from the film for $478,000. "The three-sheet is equally as rare and in this case the copy that surfaced required an extra level of restoration to make it presentable," Smith said. Heritage, working in orchestra with restoration specialists, carefully reproduced a bottom missing panel from the poster using the reference of the press book image (est. $100,000+).

A stunning six-sheet for The Maltese Falcon (Warner Brothers, 1941) - the only-known copy to have appeared at public auction - appears as part of the "Theaters of Old Detroit Collection," a special selection of high-profile poster, lobby cards and inserts.

Among the selection of stellar one-sheets, is a scarce full-bleed one sheet Style A poster for The Song of Songs (Paramount, 1933), considered one of the most beautiful one sheets known to exist (est. $15,000+). "The breathtaking poster featuring Marlene Dietrich is rarely seen in even the most advanced collections," Smith said. Dietrich plays the embodiment of innocence in the role as a naïve, orphaned peasant torn between a struggling artist and a hedonistic baron in big-city Berlin.

Five signed, preliminary artwork sketches by director Akira Kurosawa from his 1980 masterpiece Kagemusha (c. 1970s) are also on offered in the March 28-29 auction. Kurosawa originally wanted to be a painter, but the endeavor was financially impossible. He turned to film making and became one of the most iconic directors of the 20th century with Kagemusha earning two Academy Award nominations. Heritage is offering just five of the estimated 100 works he crafted while working on the film, the bulk of which were exhibited a few years ago at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The works come to auction from Japan and are estimated to sell for between $18,000 and $20,000+ each.

Posters from some of Hollywood's greatest films include a one sheet Style D for The Wizard of Oz (MGM, 1939), considered to be the better style one sheet of the two produced for the film's original release (est. $30,000+).

Additional highlights include, but are not limited by:

Love Before Breakfast (Universal, 1936), a rare one sheet featuring Carole Lombard (est. $20,000+).

A dazzling eight sheet measuring a colossal 81" X 106" promoting Houdini "Buried Alive!" (Otis Litho, 1926), produced the year the magician died of peritonitis (est. $8,000+). 

A desirable one sheet for Cat People (RKO, 1942), considered a masterpiece of the horror genre, (est. $8,000+).

A three sheet for King Kong (RKO, 1942), measuring 41-1/2" X 80", dates to the film's 1942 re-release (est. $6,000+).

Heritage Auctions is the largest auction house founded in the United States and the world’s third largest, with annual sales of more than $900 million, and 900,000+ 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. 

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