LOS ANGELES – Van Eaton Galleries, the Sherman Oaks, California-based auction house specializing in Disney memorabilia and animation, will hold a Rediscovering Disneyland two-day auction May 22-23, beginning at 10 a.m. Pacific time each day. The auction, which is also the first open public exhibition and auction for Van Eaton Galleries in more than a year, represents one of the most significant and comprehensive collections of early Disney theme park artifacts and Disney-related memorabilia ever assembled, with more than 1,200 items. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.
Walt Disney first proposed building a theme park to the Disney Studios board of directors in 1952. They felt the financial venture was too much of a risk for the studio, so Walt formed a separate company and decided to finance the initial work on his own. Walt was not a stranger to challenges, and he met this one head on. To cover the initial costs of designing the park, he mortgaged his house and took a loan out against his life insurance policy. One of the amazing artifacts included in this auction is a Walt and Lillian Disney-signed document concerning the status of this life insurance loan. As all of Walt’s funds were tied up in the creation of his park the year before it opened, he was unable to pay the loan back and required an extension. Had Disneyland not been a success, Walt likely would have defaulted on this risky loan. It is a monumental piece of Disneyland history and showcases the commitment and drive that Disney had for his dream, and it carries an estimate of $3,000-$5,000.
One of the major highlights of the auction is a hand-made mosaic that was part of the original Sleeping Beauty castle before it was renovated in 1983. The massive hand-crafted artwork, consisting of hundreds of individual tiles, features an image of Sleeping Beauty and Prince Phillip and is an actual piece of the original Sleeping Beauty castle. It is estimated at $25,000-$30,000.
A more unusual item in the auction is one of the original Fantasyland trash cans from the park’s opening year in 1955. A trash can may not seem like an artifact of the park that would be considered a high-value collectible, but these stylish trash cans from the park can sell for well over $10,000. Because only a few of these trash cans were made in the park’s opening year, and this is the only one known to still exist, it is sure to get a lot of attention. It is estimated at $6,000-$10,000.
Other highlights include original track from Walt Disney’s backyard railroad, the Carolwood Pacific, estimated at $5,000-$7,000; original artwork for a 1962 Disneyland park map, estimated at $4,000-$6,000; an original Autopia vehicle body, estimated at $6,000-$8,000; an original Splash Mountain promotional painting, estimated at $3,000-$5,000; a Disneyland Haunted Mansion blueprint, estimated at $1,000-$2,000; a Fantasyland Castle wrought iron bench, estimated at $2,000-$4,000; and many other items.
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