A poster for the 1931 movie “Frankenstein” sold for $300,000 at auction Saturday, leaving its Gig Harbor owners in a happy state of shock.
“We were hoping we could maybe get $200,000 so we’re just really happy right now,” Steve Wilkins said by phone from the auction house in Dallas. “Right now we’re getting ready to go out and celebrate.”
Wilkins found the old poster in an abandoned projection room on Long Island in the early 1970s and hung onto it for more than 40 years, unaware until recently of its value to collectors.
The movie, Frankenstein, which starred Boris Karloff, is a classic now regarded as a prototype for the horror film genre. According to appraisers at Heritage Auctions, the poster is very likely the only one in existence.
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Prior to Saturday’s auction, Heritage estimated its value at between $100,000 and $200,000 and made it the centerpiece of their weekend sale.
Wilkins and his wife Jennifer flew to Dallas for the auction so they could witness the action live.
The scene at the auction house wasn’t quite what they expected, Wilkins said.
“There were probably only about eight people on the floor,” he said. There was a bank of people on phones and a bunch of people looking at computer screens.
“We sat through 186 other posters, getting sweaty hands, and then it was us, Lot 187. We were sweating bullets.”
“The bidding was going pretty good, and then it stalled a little bit at $200,000,” Wilkins said. “Then I’m not really sure what happened. I’m pretty sure the winning bid was a floor bid.”
Wilkins said people burst into applause when the gavel went down at $300,000.
The buyer was not identified.
Wilkins figures that after commissions and various fees are taken off the purchase price, he’ll probably come out with something around $240,000.
“And then we’ll have taxes after that,” he said. “Uncle Sam will want his cut.
“Still though,” he said, “how could you not be happy about that?”
Wilkens said he’s not sure what he and Jennifer will do with the money.
‘“We still owe a little bit on the mortage on our house, so we’ll probably pay that off,” Wilkins said. “Beyond that, I really don’t know. We’re pretty frugal people. We don’t have a lot of wants. We’ll just have to wait and see.”
“Right now we’re just going to celebrate and be happy,” he said. “It’s been a hell of a ride.”