Trove of Vintage Hollywood Posters Found in Floor of Home Heads to Auction

A single Tarzan poster may go for as much as $80,000.

This Tarzan poster is estimated at up to $80,000.<br>Courtesy Heritage Auctions.

This Tarzan poster is estimated at up to $80,000.
Courtesy Heritage Auctions.

A Southern Pennsylvania family may find themselves a lot richer after some home renovation work turned up a treasure trove of classic Hollywood posters under some linoleum tile. Clark Gable and Laurel and Hardy are among the silver-screen stars featured in the advertisements.

As of the time of writing, online bidding has already begun and you’ve got two days left to bid (online bidding closes at 10pm on Friday) on more than a dozen examples that are, in Heritage Auctions’s appraisal, in excellent condition. The posters come from the “pre-Code” era, before the Production Code Administration began to enforce restrictions on the content of films.

Robert Basta, 56, and his sons, Bob and Dylan, had no idea that 17 movie theater posters were hidden in their home.

“I have been in the construction industry all my life and have bought many houses to renovate,” Basta told the Daily Mail, adding that he bought his Pennsylvania house cheap due to its poor condition. “You always dream of coming across something valuable hidden in a closet or under the floorboards but it had never happened—until now.” He had dispatched Dylan to take up the linoleum tile to earn a little money for college.

Other classic movie posters have fetched as much as $350,000 in recent sales at the same auction house. New York’s Swann Auction House recently totaled more than $800,000 at an August poster sale featuring images of tennis players and Buffalo Bill. Heritage’s New York venue recently made its first foray into the modern and contemporary art market with a sale that included works by Ai Weiwei, Andy Warhol, and Robert Rauschenberg.

A Jean Harlow poster is tagged at up to $60,000.<br>Courtesy Heritage Auctions.

A Jean Harlow poster is tagged at up to $60,000.
Courtesy Heritage Auctions.

A third of the estimated $240,000 value comes from just one sheet, a poster advertising Tarzan: The Ape Man, the 1932 film that introduced actor Johnny Weissmuller as the jungle hero. He would go on to star in six Tarzan films. It’s estimated at $40,000-$80,000.

Jean Harlow’s face dominates the poster for The Red-Headed Woman, which Heritage’s director of vintage posters, Grey Smith, says in a video is just the third known example of its kind. It’s estimated at $30,000-$60,000.

According to Heritage, Harlow excels as “a gold digger from the wrong side of the tracks who sets out to break up a millionaire son’s marriage and make it to the big time in high society.”

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Live bidding for the “Movie Posters Under the Floor” sale begins on Saturday, November 21 and runs through Sunday, November 22.

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