So at least as long as I’ve been collecting original props, this month, March 2008, is unprecedented in the hobby. And it all begins tomorrow, March 15…
As everyone knows, there are two big auction house events this month: Guernsey’s “Pugliese Prop Culture Collection” (March 15-16) and, just two weeks later, Profiles in History’s “Hollywood Auction 31” (March 27-28).
Both auctions feature a number of high value props spanning hundreds of items, and my question is, how will these offerings be absorbed by the hobby?
Original prop collecting is a very niche hobby and is a very expensive pursuit. Truly high end collectors within the hobby, buying multiple five-figure props at these events, are a very small subset of the hobby at large.
Both of these events feature extremely high value pieces, with high opening bid amounts and estimates, and I will be interested to see the “action” on these pieces and how many go unsold, not realizing the minimum bid required to secure them. This is compounded by a very weak American economy (the host country of both auctions, in Las Vegas and Los Angeles). I suppose, with the devalued dollar, it might be a better value proposition for buyers from Europe and other countries, but the fact remains that ongoing mainstream media talk of “recession” can’t be helpful in promoting and creating excitement over what are commonly viewed as “luxury” items.
As an example, both auctions feature Michael Keaton costumes from Batman Returns – the Profiles piece (Lot 938) opens at $60,000 while the Guernsey’s piece (Lot 82) has an estimate of $75,000-$100,000.
Also, Profiles offers three Jurassic Park dinosaurs opening at $80,000, $60,000, and $60,000 (Lots 978, 989, 990) – would one high end collector buy all three? Alternately, are three collectors each willing to spend $75,000+ (including Buyer’s Premium) for a Jurassic Park dinosaur (keeping in mind such pieces were offered in the last PiH Hollywood Auction in December as well). There are additional Jurassic Park pieces with relatively lower estimates, but still high values ($30,000, $30,000, $20,000, $20,000, $20,000, $20,000, $20,000, $15,000, $15,000, $12,000, $12,000). That is upwards of half a million dollars (with Buyer’s Premium) worth of Jurassic Park dinosaur props.
The Guernsey’s auction is so vast in types of pieces, estimates, provenance, and other factors, it is anyone’s guess as to the outcome of the auction, compounded by the one-time event nature and location (whereas Profiles, by comparison, is regularly scheduled, consistent, and anticipated). Also of interest would be a post auction analysis of the original cost of acquisition of these pieces by Mr. Pugliese and the subsequent values realized over the weekend, in that it appears that he acquired many of his pieces at various auction house events himself (Profiles in History, R&R Auctions, Bonhams & Butterfields, Christie’s, Heritage Auction Galleries, Julien’s, and Guernsey’s).
Will we see a saturation point? I believe March 2008 offers a great test to the hobby.
Jason De Bord