Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Debbie Reynolds Auction

By now, you've probably heard about the record breaking prices set at Saturday's auction of Debbie Reynold's Hollywood costume and prop collection.  Reynolds started the collection in 1970 when she hand picked and purchased a large selection of items that MGM had sold to an auctioneer.  She continued to collect and receive donations for decades.  For years, she sought to to find a museum for the collection and she came close 7 times, but each venture ended in failure.  Reynolds was left with the bills for architects, designers, contractors and materials.  As the creditors started to close in, she was forced to admit defeat and came to the heart-wrenching decision to sell the collection. 

As Reynolds said of the Hollywood studios that didn't care, "It's not so much that I had vision, it's that they had none."   It is sad to find that many of the most iconic pieces from the auction are now headed to Japan and Saudi Arabia.  An important part of America's movie history will no longer reside here.  Following, a look at some of the highlights of the auction.  Keep in mind that ending bids shown do not include the 23% buyer's premium or California state taxes.

Claudette Colbert's gold lame gown from Cleopatra, 1934 sold for $40,000.

Judy Garland's blue dress worn during the first 2 weeks of filming The Wizard of Oz sold for $910,000 to a buyer representing Saudi Arabian oil money.

Garland's ruby slippers sold for $510,000 to the same buyer.  These are one of about 7 pair used during the film.

Marilyn Monroe's red sequined costume from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes sold for $1.2 million.  "We're two little girls from Little Rock."

If I had been able to bid on anything, this would have been my choice.  Bette Davis' gown from The Virgin Queen sold for $22,500.  Bette Davis is my all-time favorite actress and this was one of her best roles.

Grace Kelly's dress from To Catch a Thief sold for $450,000.

Charlton Heston's tunic and cape from Ben-Hur sold for $320,000.

Elizabeth Taylor's ceremonial headress from 1963's Cleopatra sold for $100,000.

The second highest ending auction price, Audrey Hepburn's Royal Ascot dress and hat from My Fair Lady sold for $3.7 million.

Called the "most recognized costume in film history", Marilyn Monroe's pleated crepe dress from The Seven Year Itch was also the most highly anticipated lot of the auction.  The dress set a record price for movie memorabilia and sold for $4.6 million.  Sigh..........

It's hard to believe, but there will be two more auctions of Debbie Reynold's massive collection, one in December 2011 and the other in spring, 1012.