Off the wall, under the hammer - Arts and Entertainment - The Independent

Off the wall, under the hammer

Coming soon to Christie's: Europe's biggest ever film poster auction. If you want vintage, it's here. If you want to flog Abba - The Movie, stay home. By Sheila Johnston

Next Thursday, Christie's will hold an auction of 278 film posters which, it claims, is the largest and most important ever staged in Europe. Drawn substantially from the private collection of the singer Mel Torm, many are for Hollywood movies of the Thirties, Forties and Fifties, reflecting Torm's main interests, but there are also numerous rarities and oddities: Louise Brooks having her famous bob trimmed on a Swedish poster for A Social Celebrity; an elegant design for Chinatown by the illustrator Robert Amsel; some politically very incorrect posters for black movies from the silent era; and the French poster for The Last Outlaw, which charmingly misspells its star as Garry Cooper.

Britain is slimly represented (although there are some fine Ealing pieces, and rare original posters for Lady Hamilton, Lawrence of Arabia and Oliver Twist). According to Tony Nourmand, Christie's consultant on film posters, paper shortages in this country meant that posters were often recycled: for instance, none survive from Hitchcock's early period.

The most expensive item in the sale, with an estimated value of £12,000 to £17,000, is Lot 278: a 1924 film called Alice's Spooky Adventure. Walt Disney, then aged 22, animated the movie personally; shortly thereafter he gave up drawing. The poster artwork is by Ub Iwerks, who later designed Mickey Mouse. This, the sole known copy, was in the private collection of Virginia Davis (the little girl who played Alice) for almost 70 years. If the price on Alice's head seems a shade steep, it's still a snip compared to the poster for the 1931 version of Frankenstein which sold 18 months ago for a record $198,000.

Film ephemera represent a growing, but highly selective market: the yellowing and dog-eared poster on your bedroom wall is unlikely to be worth a small fortune. "People offer us hundreds of thousands of posters a week, but good material is really, really scarce," Nourmand says. "We get maybe 10 phone calls a day for people wanting to sell King Kong posters. Invariably it's one of the reprints from the Seventies." The real thing fetched $110,000 last December.

Nourmand also politely declines the many offers of Abba - The Movie that come his way, although he throws out a crumb of hope. "I'm sure it will be in demand one day." His priorities in accepting material are the poster's rarity, design and condition, the celebrity of the artist and, last but not least, the status of the film itself. "Posters for Quest for Fire, The Eye of the Needle and Victor Victoria come up in mass quantities. Unfortunately they're not worth anything."

Most items in next week's auction are for films of a respectable vintage; the youngest is for The Terminator (1984). But (for those interested in future investments) Tarantino fever is already bumping up the market value of posters for his movies: "It's quite hard to get an original [as opposed to the reprint] of Reservoir Dogs," Nourmand says. "And I'm sure the different Pulp Fiction posters will soon be rare. The Gate Cinema was selling them at about £15 a set and ran out within a week."

n Tony Nourmand can be contacted through Christie's South Kensington, 85 Old Brompton Rd, London SW7 3LD. The auction (ref EPH 6778) will be held next Thursday at 2.00pm

Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West is on his 'Yeezus' tour at the moment

Music
Arts and Entertainment
Rob James-Collier, who plays under-butler Thomas Barrow, admitted to suffering sleepless nights over the Series 5 script

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence star in new film 'Serena'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Some might argue that a fleeting moment in the actor’s scintillating, silver-tongued company is worth every penny.

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Colin Firth stars as master magician Stanley Crawford in Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight'

film
Arts and Entertainment
U2 have released Songs of Innocence in partnership with Apple

musicBand have offered new record for free on iTunes
Arts and Entertainment
Brad Pitt stars in David Ayer's World War II drama Fury

film
Arts and Entertainment
Top hat: Pharrell Williams

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum star as undercover cops in 22 Jump Street

film
Arts and Entertainment
David Bowie is back with fresh music after last year's hit album The Next Day

music
Arts and Entertainment
Keith Richards is publishing 'Gus and Me: The Story of My Granddad and My First Guitar', a children's book about his introduction to music

music
Arts and Entertainment
Calvin Harris has generated £4m in royalties from the music platform

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman stars as the Time Lord's companion Clara in Doctor Who

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Time and time again: the popular daytime quiz has been a fixture on Channel 4 since 1982

TV
Arts and Entertainment

To mark Tolstoy's 186th birthday

books
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel McAdams is reportedly competing with Mad Men's Elisabeth Moss for a major role in True Detective

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Sam Smith returned to the top spot with his album 'In The Lonely Hour'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Steve Backshall is set to dance with Ola Jordan on Strictly Come Dancing. 'I have a friend who's a dancer and she said to me 'You want Ola because she's a fantastic dancer and she can make anyone look good' meaning 'even you'!' he said.

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Sting and Paul Simon on stage together at Carnegie Hall in New York

music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week