A trove of a 17 rare movie posters discovered under a linoleum floor in southern Pennsylvania may be worth more than $140,000 when they cross the block at public auction Nov. 21-22 in Dallas. The find holds lost pieces of Hollywood history including five, never-before-seen posters such as Clark Gable's first starring role and the Style D one sheet for Tarzan The Ape Man, which is expected to sell for more than $40,000 at Heritage Auctions
The stash was discovered last summer by Bob and Dylan Basta while renovating a back room in their father's newly-purchased home. When Bob and Dylan removed a dated linoleum floor they discovered layers of newspapers from the 1940s and 14 movie posters from obscure films they had never heard of well as the well-known Tarzan. They quickly called their father, Robert, to report the discovery.
"When you work on homes like this all your life you always dream of that day when you actually find something rare and it seldom comes," said Robert Basta. "I'm excited for my boys, now they have a story and a memory that will last their lifetimes."
Robert said many people would place paper, especially newspapers, under linoleum to help cushion the floor and eliminate wear. But once his sons started researching the movie titles online they quickly learned the posters under the floor were not your average discovery. "It took a day or so to sink in until we realized these weren't going to a local auction," Basta said. "That's when we found Heritage."
Grey Smith, Director of Posters for Heritage Auctions the world's largest movie poster auctioneer, said he was amazed to see the posters in person, particularly the Style D one sheet for Tarzan The Ape Man. Dubbed the Movie Posters Under the Floor Find, the discovery "is a one-of-a-kind, never-before-seen-piece of Hollywood history," Smith said.
Not since Heritage offered the Berwick Discovery of Lost Movie Posters in 2012 has a discovery of posters been so eagerly awaited by collectors, Smith said. In that case, the collection of 1930s movie posters were found at a country auction and eventually sold for more than $500,000.
The Movie Poster Under the Floor Find holds the only known surviving movie posters for:
· Tarzan The Ape Man (MGM, 1932), a Style D one sheet for the first Tarzan film to star Johnny Weissmuller in the title role (est. $40,000+),
· Congorilla (Fox, 1932), an early 1932 documentary filmed in Africa (est. $4,000+),
· Sporting Blood (MGM, 1931) Clark Gable's first starring role (est. $5,000+),
· Tess of the Storm Country (Fox, 1932), an Academy Award nominated film starring Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell (est. $1,200+).
· Any Old Port, an MGM short starring the comedy duo Laurel and Hardy (est. $8,000+).
"Like Berwick, the Movie Posters Under the Floor Find all date from the late 1920s to the early 1930s and restores several missing chapters of Hollywood history," Smith said. "Little did they know they were standing on a small fortune."
The collection also holds one of the finest condition posters for MGM's 1932 bad-girl classic Red Headed Woman, which is expected to sell for more than $30,000 and Doctor X (First National, 1932) a cannibal thriller starring Fay Wray (est. $18,000+). Posters for The Dance of Life (Paramount, 1929), a jazz-age classic; Blondie of the Follies (MGM, 1932), the style C and style D one sheet (est. $3,000+); and posters for westerns including The Golden West (Fox, 1932); The Rider of Death Valley (Universal,1932); and The Long, Long Trail (Universal, 1929) were also discovered.
Robert Basta said the discovery will help him afford retirement and make life just a little bit easier. "I know this is a blessing for me," he said. "I don't know where it will take our family, but I know this is a blessing."