DALLAS – The only known copy of the U.S. release one sheet from the 1927 lost cinema classic London After Midnight (MGM, 1927) sold Nov. 22 for $478,000 in Heritage Auctions’ $2.35 million Vintage Movie Posters Signature® Auction in Dallas, breaking the record for the most valuable movie poster ever sold at public auction. The buyer is a longtime horror movie poster collector who does not wish to be identified.
“This is one of the most sought-after posters of the 20th century and the only example known to exist,” said Grey Smith, Director of Vintage Movie Posters at Heritage. “The movie is considered to be one the “holy grails” of lost cinema and was reconstructed more than ten years ago using more than 200 still photographs and a continuity script. This is the only copy of the rare U.S. one sheet known to exist.
The previous record stood for 17 years following the March 1997 auction of a one sheet movie poster for The Mummy for $453,500.
This is the second world record set by Heritage in as many years. Heritage also holds the world record for the most valuable insert movie poster insert sold at public auction when an original 1931 insert for the Universal horror classic Frankenstein sold for $262,900 in July 2013.
“Of the top 10 most valuable posters ever sold, we’ve had the pleasure of selling seven of them – and it was a true pleasure to offer this rare find from one of Lon Chaney’s most legendary roles,” Smith said.” I was shocked to see how fabulous it looked after 87 years.”
Lon Chaney, “The Man of a Thousand Faces,” appeared in London After Midnight as a vampire in makeup only. The film was released with two different one sheet posters, this one, a stone lithograph, was done in a sepia tone photographic process, which MGM did frequently during this period in time. The poster was carefully preserved and Smith doubts the poster was ever displayed, as it is in such fabulous condition.
Additional Chaney posters offered in Heritage’s Vintage Movie Poster Auction included the sale of a one sheet for The Unknown (MGM, 1927) for $28,837. The 1927 example is one of two known to appear at auction. The colorful poster for Laugh, Clown, Laugh (MGM, 1928) depicting Chaney as Tito Beppi, a circus clown who cannot help but weep, sold for $23,900.
Large format posters were in demand, as a French four panel for RKO’s 1933 hit King Kong, as big as the beast himself, sold for $65,725, and a six sheet for Vertigo (Paramount, 1958) ended at $31,070.
A one sheet style B for Gold Diggers of 1933 (Warner Brothers, 1933) sold for $31,070 and a one sheet for The Ghost of Frankenstein (Universal, 1942), sold for $26,290 in its debut at Heritage.
A collection of travel posters saw eight bidders compete for a 1924 Swiss St. Moritz ski poster, which sold for $21,510, and a 1938 poster for the New York Central System’s “The New 20th Century Limited” sold for $10,157.
Additional highlights include, but are not limited to:
• A lobby card for the Peter Lorre mad doctor vehicle Mad Love (MGM, 1935), sold for $23,900.
• A one sheet for This Gun for Hire (Paramount, 1942), featuring Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake, brought $23,900
• A Mickey Mouse stock poster (Columbia, 1930s) estimated at $8,000 sold for $16,730.
• A one sheet for Lon Chaney’s West of Zanzibar (MGM, 1928) ended at $16,132.
For more information about this or any auction, consigning items or other services offered by Heritage Auctions visit www.ha.com or call 877-HERITAGE (437-4824).