In April, the “Planet of the Apes” Statue of Liberty prop that has long been the focus of an ongoing investigation by the Original Prop Blog was determined to have in fact been made for and used in the 2004 Steven Spielberg film The Terminal starring Tom Hanks – not the 1968 science fiction classic Planet of the Apes. This prop has recently resurfaced for sale or rent by Hollywood Parts (who is storing the piece for owner/prop dealer Les Hemstock), which includes photos of COAs/LOAs from John Tarter/Hollywood Prop Supply, which is another shocking revelation in this two year investigation into the provenance of this piece.
The article published this past April provides information as to the actual use of this piece in The Terminal, as well as a summary of and links to past articles with additional questions, research, analysis, and information:
John Tarter/’Hollywood Prop Supply’ Provenance & Authentication?
I did speak with Mike Filonczuk at Hollywood Parts today, who confirmed that he is storing the piece for Les Hemstock, and has listed it on his site as a “Statue of Liberty Head”, with no attribution to the film Planet of the Apes, though paperwork citing such attribution is depicted in the photos which has, to my knowledge, never before been made known or available publicly.
The new listing of the piece can be found at HollywoodParts.com – Statue of Liberty Head with a sale price of $18,000 and a weekly rental minimum of $2,000 per week:
As seen on the site, in addition to photos of the prop itself are two photos of documentation from Hollywood Prop Supply signed by John Tarter – a COA dated 05/05/05 and an LOA dated 06/20/06:
The LOA above reads:
HOLLYWOOD PROP SUPPLY
2942 North Hills Street * Meridian, MC 39301 * (601) 693-3445
MARK SULLIVAN JOHN TARTER
NANCY SULLIVAN RICHARD GATEWOOD
June 20, 2006
Mr. Les Hemstock
38 Bream Way
Bradeley, Stoke on Trent
RE: Statue of Liberty Head from “Planet of the Apes”
Thank you for the purchase of the above-mentioned item. This prop Statue of Liberty Head was issued to the set of the 1968 motion picture “Planet of the Apes,” for use in the final scenes of the production.
The subject Statue Head was stored in a Studio archive warehouse when the production was completed. A number of years ago it was donated to an Industry Charity to be resold for funding purposes. While in their care this iconic piece of motion picture history suffered major damage to the face and especially the crown and will need to be completely restored to bring it back to it’s former glory.
This piece is one of many items sold by this Charity to fund their projects.
I know you will enjoy this item for many years to come.
John A. Tarter
The Hollywood Prop Supply Certificate of Authenticity (COA) is dated May 5, 2005. The Terminal was released theatrically June 18, 2004.
Also of interest is that the Hollywood Prop Supply Letter of Authenticity (LOA) is dated June 20, 2006, though it incorporates a photo of the restored piece from the Profiles in History auction in August 2007 – one year later.
Daren R. Dochterman, Conceptual Artist, The Terminal
As noted in the most recent article related to this investigation, Daren R. Dochterman, who was employed as Conceptual Artist for Steven Spielberg’s The Terminal (see credits, IMDb), gave me permission to publish the following statement on his behalf:
I hadn’t heard about this prop “restoration” before… probably because I don’t usually travel in the collector’s circles… but I just saw this on display at the Hollywood Show over the weekend… and I recognized it immediately… it’s from a film I worked on back in 2003, Steven Spielberg’s “The Terminal”… I did the concept art for this… and remember it being sculpted in the shop next to the large Terminal set in Palmdale, CA. The scene, which I’m not sure is in the final film or not, had Tom Hanks’ character in a souvenir shop in the NYC Airport Terminal, and this Statue of Liberty head was made to fit a closed circuit television fed by a camera imbedded inbetween the eyes… so he could see himself in the crown windows. This is why the crown line is distorted… to fit a standard monitor size.
Below is collateral provided by Mr. Dochterman showing the composite illustration he created for the film, The Terminal (TOP), as well as “sculpting in progress” photos of the prop itself (MIDDLE), and a photo of the shop set in which the scene would have been filmed with stand-in cut out of the statue head (BOTTOM):
Below is a side-by-side comparison of Les Hemstock’s post-restoration “Planet of the Apes” Statue of Liberty prop (LEFT) and the very distinctly custom sculpted prop specially designed for The Terminal circa late 2003 (RIGHT):
As noted in past articles, the spikes seen in the crown of the restored piece (LEFT) were recreated from scratch to resemble the spikes seen in Planet of the Apes, and are not pieces found with the original deteriorating statue head.
Below is a sample screencapture from The Terminal showing the deep background piece in one of the shops, as described by Mr. Dochterman:
A full series of screencaptures/stills from The Terminal showing the Statue of Liberty prop can be found in the addendum to the most recent article on the topic:
John Tarter, Hollywood Prop Supply, L.A. Prop & Wardrobe
The revelation that (per the material published on the Hollywood Parts website) prop dealer John Tarter of Hollywood Prop Supply authenticated and sold the Statue of Liberty head directly to prop dealer Les Hemstock is interesting based on John Tarter’s reputation in the prop world, as it relates to his items sold through auction houses and on eBay as jsnent, and affiliations with L.A. Prop & Wardrobe, Hollywood Prop Supply, and Studio West Props and Wardrobe (see “Classic” Film & Television Prop and Wardrobe eBay Sellers).
One of the biggest developments related to the hobby in 2008 was born out of Emmy Award-winning investigative reporter David Schechter’s news stories broadcast by WFAA Television:
- WFAA Television News Report on Heritage Auction Galleries, L.A. Prop and Wardrobe: “Systematic Misrepresentation of Provenance”
- More on Heritage Auction Galleries, L.A. Prop & Wardrobe
- WFAA Television News Report Update: Heritage Auction To Sue L.A. Prop and Wardrobe
- News Reports: Heritage Filed Suit Against L.A. Prop & Wardrobe in Dallas County District Court Wednesday
The WFAA reports focused on questions about the provenance and authenticity of items sold at auction which were consigned by John Tarter’s L.A. Prop and Wardrobe Company to Heritage Auction Galleries. The television broadcasts included interviews with one of the buyers, vintage expert Rick Spector of Stairway to the Stars, and Billie Null of L.A. Prop and Wardrobe, as well as Heritage representatives.
Following the first report, Heritage began to offer refunds on items that they sold which were consigned by L.A. Prop and Wardrobe, and subsequently filed a lawsuit against owners John Tarter and Billie Null.
See WFAA-TV Investigative Report Broadcasts:
02/06/08 Television Report
02/08/08 Television Report
Below was the official response from Steve Ivy, CEO & Co-Chairman, Heritage Auction Galleries:
High Resolution Archive: Heritage CEO & Chairman Letter Concerning L.A. Prop & Wardrobe Co.
The following report was the result of a search of the public Dallas County Courts Records Inquiry at the time of these original reports at courts.dallascounty.org:
High Resolution Archive: Register of Actions Case No. DC-08-01654
These public records listed John Tarter and Billie Null as defendants with both “L A Prop & Wardrobe Co” as well as “Studio West Prop & Wardrobe” listed as DBAs.
Additionally, as published previously, the following L.A. Prop and Wardrobe Company announcement letter has circulated with various pieces trading in the marketplace (dated January 4, 2006, to compare with the June 20, 2006 date of the Hollywood Prop Supply Letter of Authenticity drafted for the Statue of Liberty prop under discussion), which provides a first person account of the relationships between John Tarter, Billie Null, Richard Gatewood, and Mark Sullivan, as well as businesses L.A. Prop and Wardrobe and Hollywood Prop Supply:
Fitting the John Tarter Provenance into the “Planet of the Apes” Statue of Liberty Timeline
Interestingly, and as noted above, while John Tarter’s ‘Hollywood Prop Supply’ letter is dated June 20, 2006, and references the statue piece requiring a “complete restoration”, the photo printed on the Summer 2006 letter is of the restored statue, using the photo from the Summer 2007 Profiles in History auction (see Profiles in History 28 Held Yesterday, Today).
Below is a synopsis of the major milestones with regards to the “Planet of the Apes” Statue of Liberty prop based on a variety of sources of information (click image for full size):
- April 3, 1968: Planet of the Apes released theatrically in the United States [source: IMDb]
- June 18, 2004: The Terminal released theatrically in the United States [source: IMDb]
- May 5, 2005: John Tarter of Hollywood Prop Supply certifies Statue of Liberty prop as utilized in “Planet of the Apes” [source: Hollywood Parts]
- June 20, 2006: John Tarter, Hollywood Prop Supply, sells Statue of Liberty prop to Les Hemstock as: “issued to the set of the 1968 motion picture “Planet of the Apes” for use in the final scenes of the production” [source: Hollywood Parts]
- May 3, 2007: Les Hemstock starts topic on SciFiNow online forums about his Planet of the Apes collection [source: SciFiNow Online]
- July 2007: Les Hemstock and “Planet of the Apes” Statue of Liberty prop featured in “[OBSESSED]” feature in SciFiNow print magazine [source: SciFiNow Magazine]
- August 8, 2007: “Planet of the Apes” Statue of Liberty prop consigned to auction house Profiles in History by Les Hemstock as cover featured item fails to sell (est. $30,000-$40,000) [source: Profiles in History]
- September 2007: “Planet of the Apes” Statue of Liberty prop consigned to auction house Heritage Auction Galleries by Les Hemstock for the October sale event (est. $15,000) [source: Heritage Auction Galleries]
- October 2007: Heritage Auction Galleries withdraws “Planet of the Apes” Statue of Liberty prop prior to sale event [source: Heritage Auction Galleries]
- February 6, 2008: WFAA-TV broadcasts investigative reporter David Schechter’s first story on John Tarter’s L.A. Prop & Wardrobe, “systematic misrepresentation of provenance” against Heritage Auction Galleries [source: WFAA-TV]
- February 8, 2008: WFAA-TV broadcasts second story on John Tarter’s L.A. Prop and Wardrobe, reporting Heritage plans to “sue L.A. Prop for knowingly providing bogus items for sale” [source: WFAA-TV]
- March 18, 2008: Les Hemstock lists “Planet of the Apes” Statue of Liberty prop for sale on eBay under “kcotsmeh” account; auction ends at $8,600 with hidden reserve unmet – “HOLLYWOOD CPR” noted as source [source: eBay]
- September 7, 2008: Brian Penikas of ApeMania.com publishes statement on the Original Prop Blog disputing “Planet of the Apes” attribution of the Statue of Liberty prop [source: ApeMania.com]
- March 8, 2009: “Planet of the Apes” Statue of Liberty announced as available in “for a fee” photo opportunities at “The Hollywood Show” [source: The Hollywood Show]
- April 27, 2009: Daren R. Dochterman, Conceptual Artist for The Terminal, inspects the Statue of Liberty prop at “The Hollywood Show” and goes on the record that it is not from Planet of the Apes but The Terminal and includes evidence of design, construction [source: Daren R. Dochterman]
- July 2009: “Statue of Liberty Head” appears on the Hollywood Parts website for sale or rent [source: Hollywood Parts]