Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Debbie Reynolds Auction

Debbie Reynolds' first auction of her vast collection of memorabilia was a smashing success. When MGM and 20th Century Fox cleaned out their warehouses in the early 70s, Debbie was one of the few people at the time who realized these famous costumes in movie history shouldn't simply be tossed away (no doubt much of them probably already had). Imagining them displayed in a Hollywood museum, she held onto them for decades, which is quite a remarkable accomplishment considering these fragile items were really designed only to have a lifespan of a few weeks or months. She was never able to find a permanent home for the collection. A recent failed attempt to house the collection at an unfinished amusement park near Dollywood left her owing so much money she finally had to give in to selling her treasures. She must have had a pretty good idea that this would probably solve all her financial problems, but there was always more to her plan than self-interest. At the start of the auction, Debbie made a game attempt to be bright and cheerful, struggling not to cry, but it was clearly a day she had long dreaded. After Judy Garland's alternate dress from The Wizard of Oz sold for $910,000, however, she brightened considerably and was making witty, funny asides throughout the many hours of the auction that followed. And it DID go on. The items sold in film history order, and after eight hours, they had only reached the year 1955, so I decided I would give up on the idea of bidding on an item from the 1963 Cleopatra. During a break both Debbie and daughter Carrie Fisher were kind enough to sign my catalog.
One of my favorite items, this Adrian designed felt jacket worn by an extra in The Wizard of Oz sold for $22,500. An alternate dress for Judy Garland (not used in the film) sold for $910,000, the first big sale of the day. The alternate Arabian styled Ruby Slippers sold for a mere $500,000.
Shirley Temple's dress from The Littlest Rebel sold for $25,000.
Mary Astor's ivory lace gown from Meet Me in St. Louis sold for $15,000.
From Meet Me in St. Louis, a nightgown worn by Margaret O'Brien and a dress worn by Judy Garland sold for $800 and $16,000.
Gene Kelly's pewter brocade jacket and pantaloons and Debbie Reynolds' dress from Singin' in the Rain sold for $9,000 and $15,000 respectively.
Another one of Debbie's flapper dresses from Singin' in the Rain sold for $27.500.
A relative bargain, Lucille Ball's costume from The Long Long Trailer sold for $16,000.
Marilyn Monroe's 'Heat Wave' costume from There's No Business Like Show Business sold for $500,000.
Marilyn Monroe's 'Little Rock' costume from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes sold for $1,200,000.
Possibly the most famous of all movie costumes -- the 'subway' dress from The Seven Year Itch. It exceeded all expectations by selling for a staggering $4,600,000. Needless to say, Debbie was overwhelmed. She may never have gotten the museum built, but at least she has the satisfaction of knowing she made a spectacular investment.
Audrey Hepburn's iconic Ascot dress from My Fair Lady.
From Left, the Ascot dress from My Fair Lady, Rex Harrison and Samantha Eggar's costumes from Doctor Dolittle and Barbra Streisand's costume from Before the Parade Passes By from Hello, Dolly!
Barbra Streisand's costumes from Hello, Dolly! and Funny Girl.
Julie Andrews' nubby brown jumper and signed guitar from The Sound of Music.

3 comments:

Paul Duca said...

Someone paid nearly a million dollars for a dress Judy Garland DIDN'T wear in a movie Can you verify that number?

I was watching ANTIQUES ROADSHOW and a man brought in something given to him by the Hollywood costumer Donfeld...the dress Marilyn Monroe wore performing the "Running Wild" number in SOME LIKE IT HOT. There minimum insurable value for that was $250.000--and who knows what it would score at auction.

Scott Santoro said...

Yes, that number is correct.

Charles Triplett said...

Enjoyed your write up on the Debbie Reynolds auction. I was the high bidder of the Judy Garland MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS party dress, my favortie Judy Garland movie costume. If you would like to see some of my collection go to www.judygarlandcostumes.com Thanks again for your write up and photos. Charles Triplett