Classic ‘Frankenstein’ Poster Leads $2.1 Million Heritage Movie Posters Sale

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Frankenstein (Universal, 1931). A three sheet (41 by 78.5 inches) Style C poster that sold at auction for sold $358,500.
Photo: Courtesy of Heritage Auctions.
The Maltese Falcon (Warner Brothers, 1941). A six sheet poster sold for $191,200.
Photo: Courtesy of Heritage Auctions.
London After Midnight, (MGM, 1927). A three sheet poster sold for $71,700.00.
Photo: Courtesy of Heritage Auctions.
The Song of Songs, (Paramount, 1931). A full-bleed one sheet poster sold for $35,850.00.
Photo: Courtesy of Heritage Auctions.
The Wizard of Oz, (MGM, 1939). A one sheet Style D poster sold for $65,725.00.
Photo: Courtesy of Heritage Auctions.
Akira Kurosawa, (c. 1970s). Signed Preliminary artwork from Kagemusha sold for $15,535.00.
Photo: Courtesy of Heritage Auctions.
La Dolce Vita (Cineriz, 1960). Sold for $19,120.00.
Photo: Courtesy of Heritage Auctions.
Casablanca (Warner Brothers, 1942). An Australian Daybill poster sold for $21,510.00.
Photo: Courtesy of Heritage Auctions.
Love Before Breakfast (Universal, 1936). A one sheet poster sold at auction for $33,460.00.
Photo: Courtesy of Heritage Auctions.
Cat People (RKO 1941). One sheet poster sold for $14,340.00.
Photo: Courtesy of Heritage Auctions.
Breakfast at Tiffany's (Paramount, 1961). Poster sold for $4,541.00.
Photo: Courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

A six-foot-tall poster for the 1931 Universal Pictures movie Frankenstein (1931) sold recently for $358,500 at Heritage Auctions Texas. It was the top lot at the $2.1 million vintage movie posters signature auction held March 28–29.

Along with Dracula (1931), The Mummy (1932), and The Wolf Man (1941), the Frankenstein film was one of the many “Universal Monster” movies, and made actor Boris Karloff a household name. According to Heritage, the poster was found  by Steve Wilkin, who happened upon it in a boarded-up projection booth in the Long Island theater where he worked as a teenager. Heritage sold a Frankenstein poster for $262,900 in August 2013, then an auction record for a poster.

“This is quite simply an amazing poster and a true piece of Hollywood history,” said Grey Smith, director of vintage posters at Heritage. “It will be the gem of any collection. Period.” (For another recent noteworthy auction at Heritage, see Bidders Vie for Arts.org and Other Domain Names at Heritage Auctions.)

A total of 835 lots found buyers at last weekend’s sale, including posters from many Hollywood classics, including Casablanca, The Wizard of Oz, The Song of Songs, and Breakfast at Tiffany’s, among others.

A poster for the silent horror movie London After Midnight (1927) sold for $71,700. Midnight, which starred Lon Chaney senior, is a famous “lost” film, of which no known prints remain. The last known copy was destroyed in an MGM vault fire in 1967. Heritage Dallas sold a poster promoting the film for $478,000 in November 2014, setting the current record for a movie poster at auction. (For more news on poster auctions, see Tennis Poster Collection Smashes Auction Record at Swann Galleries.)

Another significant lot was a poster for The Maltese Falcon (1941) that sold for $191,200. The film starred Humphrey Bogart as Sam Spade in an Academy Award–nominated adaptation of the eponymous Dashiell Hammett detective novel.

Also up for auction was preliminary artwork from Japanese director Akira Kurosawa for his film Kagemusha (1980) that sold for $15,535. Although primarily known as the director films such as Rashomon (1950), the Seven Samurai (1954), and Ran (1985), Kurosawa was also an accomplished painter, who painted many of the storyboards to his films.


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