Saturday, June 4, 2011

$1,564,000 - $2,829,000 dollars and a Dream: The Debbie Reynolds Treasure Trove Auction

In case you hadn't heard, Debbie Reynolds is giving up her dream of creating a movie  memorabilia museum with the warehouses full of movie treasures she has acquired over the years. Debbie, a true child of Hollywood, is a gal who never bit the hand that fed her. Her love of Hollywood and its history inspired her to amass an impressive collection over the decades. How ironic that film, which lasts forever, is supported by an industry that treats its tangible history as temporary and disposable.

Debbie, who started her collection while in her 30s (she's a fantastic-looking 79), had hoped that her efforts to preserve all of this wonderful history would result in a museum that could showcase her collection. Originally, the museum was to be located in Las Vegas. When that plan fell through, it was hoped that a museum could be opened in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. However, the planned museum filed for bankruptcy and the collection remained without a permanent home.

Garbo, Valentino, Pickford (in addition to her costumes, a lock of her hair and many personal items), Fairbanks, Grant, Taylor, Kelly (both Grace and Gene), Flynn, Gable... almost every major star is somehow represented in this collection. Elizabeth Taylor's "Cleopatra" impossible ornate headpiece, Joan Crawford's "Mildred Pierce" waitress uniform, Clark Gable's personal robe worn between takes on "Gone With the Wind"....a movie lover's dream.

I went through the voluminous catalog and confined myself to a dozen "must haves":

Charlie Chaplin's Bowler Hat

suggested bid: $20,000  - $30,000
 Rudolph Valentino's "Suit of Lights' costume, designed by Travis Banton, from "Blood and Sand"
suggested bid: $60,000 - $80,000
Garbo's green velvet dress, designed by Adrian, from "Anna Karenina"
suggested bid: $12,000 - $15,000
Judy Garland's Ruby Slippers from "The Wizard of Oz." Every girl needs at least one pair.
suggested bid: $12,000 - $15,000

Vivien Leigh's 2-piece suit from "Waterloo Bridge" (just to see if we're the same size)
suggested bid: $3,000 - $4,000

Ingrid Bergman's dress from "Gaslight"
suggested bid: $8,000 - $12,000
Claudette Colbert's gold lame gown from "Cleopatra." I need this.
suggested bid: $20,000  - $30,000
Mary Astor's lace dress from "Meet Me in St. Louis"
$6,000 - $8,000
 Leslie Caron's blue fountain top dress from "An American in Paris" (for casual Fridays)
suggested bid: $3,000 - $5,000

Audrey Hepburn's exquisite Cecil Beaton gown from "My Fair Lady"
suggested bid: $200,000 - $300,000
Merle Oberon's Empress Josephine gown from "Desiree"
suggested bid: $20,000 - $30,000
Marilyn Monroe's red dress from "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
suggested bid: $200,000 - $300,000
Marilyn Monroe's famous white dress from "The Seven Year Itch"
suggested bid: $1 million - $2 million
Debbie paid $200 for this
Okay, okay - there are 13. I had to include those Ruby Slippers. They'd look so nice with the Marilyn Monroe red dress, don't you think? Now, if I could just scrape up the $1,564,000 - $2,829,000.

There are hundreds of unbelievable items too numerous to mention: Laurel and Hardy's suits (one large, one small), cars, cameras, lobby cards of incredible value, props, furniture and even Ingrid Bergman's suit of armor from "St. Joan." What is so evident is the quality of every detail of these items (secondary players often had wildly sumptous and ornate costumes that rivaled and even surpassed those of the stars) and what is so tragic is the utter disregard MGM and other studios had for them. 

Debbie Reynolds did her very best to honor and preserve the history of the industry she loves. We can only hope that most of these items don't end up hidden away in private collections, but somehow find their way to an appropriate venue for movie-lovers to enjoy and to discover. However, if somehow some benefactor thinks of me and I get the Valentino Suit of Lights, I'm keeping it close by at all times.

To learn more about the auction (and download a free copy of the catalog) that takes place on June 18, 2011 click here.



Edwina@FASHION+ART said...

I CANNOT believe the lack of support for Debbie Reynold's project. She owned absolute treasures and it blows my mind that her peers did not "belly up to the bar" for her.

FlickChick said...

Agreed. I hope she gets a ton of money for this and that she kept her most favorite treasures for herself. Unless the lot is purchased my a museum or a benefactor that will loan it to a museum, it will be scattered to the 4 winds. 50 years from now, someone will be scrambling to get it all together.

Rick29 said...

If I only had enough money to bid on some of the items! What a shame that they will be sold at auction, because I'm sure many of the winning bids will come from persons with private collections. You would have thought there were enough wealthy Debbie Reynolds fans to provide sufficient funds to operate a museum for a few at see if it was viable. Great post, but also a sad one.

FlickChick said...

It is sad, isn't it? Hollywood is not putting its money where its mouth is on historical preservation. Maybe they can use of of the money they are saving on Charlie Sheen's salary.

Anonymous said...

So sad. I wish I could afford one thing.

Free movies online without downloading said...

They all are the good dresses and, they are showing the best art over there.Angelina Jolie always having such kind of dresses that i have seen in some interviews and movies footage.