Barney and Linda Ronstadt help Simpsons cel plow its way to $24,000 record price

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Barney and Linda Ronstadt help Simpsons cel plow its way to $24,000 record price
The Simpsons "Mr. Plow" Barney and Linda Ronstadt Production Cel (Fox, 1992).

DALLAS, TX.- Few auctions are more animated than Heritage Auctions’ Animation Art event, which began its three-day run Friday morning with a star-studded lineup featuring no less than Mickey Mouse, Charlie Brown, the Simpsons and a genie named Jeannie.

Seven hours later, Day One was still going. The prices were still climbing. And the surprises, still piling up.

One of the biggest occurred when the auction reached The Simpsons’ section of the sale – and a production cel from the fourth-season episode "Mr. Plow” sold for $24,000. What made that moment remarkable was the fact the scene features ... Barney and Linda Ronstadt lounging in a hot tub. Its sale price was 32 times its pre-sale estimate. Mr. Plow may still be a boozer, as the song says, but he is a loser no more!

"That’s the highest price ever paid for a Simpsons cel featuring a secondary charter — for sure,” said Jim Lentz, Heritage Auctions’ Director of Animation Art. "The sale showcases the historic importance of the show for both animation as well as for the history of television.”

Speaking of historic television, Christmastime came early for one fortunate bidder — specifically, a cel from the opening sequence of Charles Schulz’s A Charlie Brown Christmas, featuring the kids and Snoopy skating on a frozen pond. This comforting keepsake sold for $38,400 after a round of spirited bidding. Happiness and cheer, indeed.

On the first day of the auction, one of the most coveted items had nothing to do with animation: the original artwork used for the poster promoting Dragons Lair, the 1983 videogame created by animator Don Bluth. No doubt its guest shot in Stranger Things helped push its sale price to $54,000, about 21 times its initial estimate.

There will be plenty of Disney gems in Saturday’s session, including numerous pieces signed by Walt Disney himself and an extraordinary assortment of Peter Pan pieces, including concept art by Disney’s favorite in-house artist Mary Blair.

But Mickey Mouse was a standout in Friday’s kickoff, especially the seven-foot tall Sorcerer's Apprentice Statue made of wood for the Walt Disney World Resorts Millennial Celebration. There’s a good reason it sold for $24,000: Only four were ever made, and only three survived after one was destroyed during shipping.

Doc, Happy, Sneezy, Sleepy, Bashful, Grumpy and Dopey were not to be outdone: A display of the Seven Dwarves, made for the Disney Store in the 1990s, sold for $43,200.

Cels from historic, landmark cartoons, from Disney to Hanna-Barbera, sold for four and five figures Friday. But one of the biggest wins of the day was from the animated introduction to a live-action series – a hand-painted, hand-inked cel from the opening to 1965’s I Dream of Jeannie. It sold for $12,600, just one of many treasures and surprises in this sale, which continues through Sunday.

Blink, like Jeannie, and you’ll run the risk of missing them.

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