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The rare Metropolis poster that was caught up in a messy bankruptcy case was auctioned today for $1.2 million by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Los Angeles.
Bundled with the rare international version of the poster from the 1927 Fritz Lang classic were posters from King Kong, The Invisible Man and Arsenic and Old Lace, as well as the original painting of Elvis Presley used for the Jailhouse Rock poster and several other pieces of memorabilia.
The winning bidder was East Coast collector and dealer Ralph DeLuca, who had made the initial $700,000 offer to the Bankruptcy Court.
DeLuca faced spirited competition from several other bidders who showed up at the hearing, including a representative from auctioneers Heritage Auctions and Profiles in History. Profiles was representing Steve Fishler, the owner of New York-based Metropolis Comics.
But the strongest challenge came from British collector Andrew Cohen, represented by Bruce Marchant of London-based Reel Poster Gallery. DeLuca and Marchant engaged in a back-and-forth in $20,000 increments as the price rose from $840,000 to the final $1.2 million selling price.
Cohen actually had owned this Metropolis poster until 2005, when he sold it for $690,000, still a world-record price for a single poster. (Today’s auction did not set a record because it was sold with other memorabilia.)
After the auction was over, DeLuca told The Hollywood Reporter he was pleased with the result. He has no immediate plans to sell the Metropolis poster or any of other eight items he bought, but he hinted a sale of some of the items could happen next year. He estimated the Metropolis poster alone could be worth between $1million and $2 million on the open market.
Marchant told THR it was “a very good deal for the buyer” and said there would be “an uptick for the buyer if he sells” the items.
There are just four known surviving copies of this version of the poster for Metropolis, the sci-fi dystopian film which was at the time one of the most expensive movies ever made. It is considered groundbreaking for its use of special effects. Leonardo DiCaprio reportedly owns a copy, while the other copies belong to the Museum of Modern Art and the Austrian National Library museum.
DeLuca said he would post images of the posters on his personal website.
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