£400,000 movie poster highlights appeal of art deco classic

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A collector has paid $690,000 (£398,000) for a poster created for the 1927 classic science fiction movie Metropolis, setting a world record.

A London gallery specialising in film posters confirmed that the art deco work by the German graphic artist Heinz Shulz-Neudamm had been sold to a private American collector.

The sepia-tinted poster, measuring 2.1m by 94cm, was designed to be placed on billboards, and is one of only four known surviving copies. One is held by the Museum of Modern Art in New York, another by the Berlin Film Museum and the other is in a private collection.

The previous record of $452,000 was set in 1997 for a poster advertising the 1932 Boris Karloff film, The Mummy.

When Metropolis was made by the Austrian-born director Fritz Lang, it cost a record five million Deutschmarks and nearly sent its German studio, Universum Film, into bankruptcy.

Ken Schacter, from California, who bought the work through the Reel Poster Gallery in west London, said: "This is one of the best film images of all time and probably the most sought-after poster in the world.

"I have been collecting for more than 25 years and this is the poster that best combines a truly great film with a truly great work of art to publicise it."

Bruce Marchant, co-owner of the Reel Poster Gallery, said the sale via a British collector was part of a growing market. "It was a market which didn't really exist until the early 1990s but since then it has exploded," he said.