An original Dracula (1931) poster from 1932 — one of only two of this style that is known to survive — just sold for $525,800 at Heritage Auctions on Saturday.
Heritage claims this is a record for movie posters, though research indicates one other may have it beat.
This poster bears a striking closeup painting of Bela Lugosi's head on a blue backdrop, the movie's title screaming out in yellow and orange.
The poster comes from the collection of Lt. Col. George J. Mitchell, Jr., an associate member of the American Society of Cinematographers, who is thought to have owned it since the 1950s. One can only imagine how little he paid back then.
“The reason my dad purchased the poster is because he loved horror films. He was drawn to the Bela Lugosi poster because it brought back childhood memories of seeing the film when it was first released,” Mitchell’s son, Arthur Mitchell said. “He remembered going to the theater … and remembered that there was an ambulance stationed in the lobby, in case anyone was so scared they needed medical attention.”
More movie posters that have commanded bloody-good prices:
This insanely beautiful Art Deco masterpiece (above), a German three-sheet for Metropolis (1927) designed by Heinz Schulz-Neudamm, is said to have sold for $690,000 in 2005, allegedly to Leonardo DiCaprio (b. 1974). For some reason, recent claims regarding highest prices ever achieved at auction don't mention this.
Below is a similar version, with all the appropriate credit text; that one sold for $357,750 in 2000.
The only known example of the one-sheet from the 1927 lost film London After Midnight, directed by horror god Tod Browning (1880-1962) and starring Lon Chaney (1883-1930), sold for $478,000 at Heritage on November 22, 2014.
Heritage also sold the only known Italian-issue movie poster for Casablanca (1943) in July 2017, which also achieved $478,000. It was an oversized 55.5" x 78.25" and was created in 1946 for the film's release in Italy.
This stunning The Mummy (1932) poster sold for $453,000 — twice the previous record — in 1997, a record that stood for many years. The 41" x 27" poster was one of only two examples known to exist, and was designed by Karoly Grosz.
This Black Cat (1934) poster sold for $334,600 at Heritage in 2009.
This incredible The Bride of Frankenstein (1935) example sold for $334,600 in 2007.
Another groovy horror poster for Dracula (1931) is the one bearing this terrifying action shot. It sold for $310,700 in 2009, when Nicolas Cage (b. 1964) was the seller. Fun fact: The last human being on earth to have been in Dracula was Carla Laemmle (1909-2014), who just died three years ago at the ripe old age of 104. The last Spanish-language Dracula survivor was Lupita Tovar (1910-2016), who made it to the age of 106 before dying in November 2016.
This version of The Black Cat's (1934) poster, known as the style D one-sheet, was moved for $286,800 in 2007. For my money, this is far superior to the one that sold for far more!
This three-sheet of style A of one of the most famous films ever made, 1933's King Kong, sold for $214,500 back in 1999.
A rare non-horror entry to the list, Flying Down to Rio (1933) brought $239,000 in 2008 as an outstanding example of Art Deco and as the first film to feature Ginger Rogers (1911-1995) and Fred Astaire (1899-1987) together.