Thursday, December 13, 2012

Metropolis, Eight Other Posters Sell for $1.2 million.

* Well-known movie poster collector Ralph DeLuca has won the vaunted three-sheet to "Metropolis" - and eight other rare items - including posters to the "Invisible Man" and "King Kong" - for a record-breaking $1.2 million - in a bankruptcy trustee sale held in Los Angeles today.

* Although the nine items were bundled in a lot - with a minimum $700,000 bid put up in advance by DeLuca - the additional $500,000 he paid for the collection, which had been "cherry-picked" by the bankruptcy trustee as being "subjectively "the most desirable" - gives, in my view - the Madison, New Jersey collector the crown as the #1 movie poster collector in the world.

* Although interviews are being conducted as we speak between Deluca and news organizations including Reuters and The Hollywood Reporter - a delighted DeLuca told me that he outbid Heritage Auctions in Dallas - and two or three other bidders for the collection.

* "I've been saying for years that I'm the #1 poster buyer in America and I proved it," he said. "When it comes down to putting cash on the table - I'm the #1 buyer. I believe in this stuff. I'm into investments - and I believe posters are a hedge against inflation."

* When asked to comment on the approximate value of "Metropolis" - independently of the other items he won, DeLuca said, "Honestly, in my opinion, the (monetary) equivalent to "Metropolis" in the art world - is $100 to $150 million. I believe it's a minimum seven-figure poster - because even if someone had $5 million to spend right now - he or she would NOT be able to find another "Metropolis" available for sale."

* The auction was was part of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy settlement involving collector Ken Schacter of Valencia, California - whereby it was agreed by U.S. authorities that significant handling costs, commission fees and labor/time - could be avoided by bypassing conventional consignors and auction houses - by selling the prize items in Schacter's collection - via a direct sale to the public.

* "This was a great victory," said DeLuca. "It's been something I've been thinking about for months and months. I thought the poster was lost and was going to be given to Heritage (Auctions) to sell (in Dallas). But the bankruptcy trustee came back to me - and I responded by offering a 100% cash offer to start the bidding, while others would not put up more than 25 percent of the collection's estimated value."

* Meawhile, the fate of the remainder of the "known items" in Ken Schacter's prized collection isn't yet known. Schacter may keep the rest of his collection if it is judged that today's sale resolves all legal fees, as well as real and punitive damages accrued thus far. If not, the remainder of his collection could also be sold - with less fanfare and by more conventional means, e.g., via an auction house.

* The U.S. Bankruptcy Court's actions - which took place throughout 2012 in Los Angeles - were the result of collector's Ken Schacter decision to declare Chapter 11 bankruptcy - to avoid re-paying a loan - said to be in the neighborhood of $500,000 and $600,000 - owed to Los Angeles investor Robert Mannheim.

* After "Metropolis" surfaced "for sale" for $850,000 on a movie sales website based in North Carolina (Movie Poster Exchange, owned by collector-investor-entrepreneurs Sean Linkenback and Peter Contarino) - Mr. Mannheim, reading forum postings on the Internet and news stories published in The Hollywood Reporter, The London Guardian and other news organizations in early 2012 - had the proof he needed - which he'd long suspected - that Mr. Schacter had been illegally shielding and selling valuable assets to avoid re-paying his loan - to the detriment of himself, to the memory of his late wife's estate and to his surviving daughter. This transformed the Chapter 11 proceeding (asset restructuring) to a Chapter 7 proceeding (asset liquidation).

* Ironically, Mr. Schacter was an early "business partner" of Movie Poster Exchange before the enterprise debuted this year - amid great publicity over the availability of Schacter's "Metropolis" poster for $850,000 - which had been acquired by Schacter in 2005 for the then astronomical sum of $690,000.

* After weeks of public silence from Movie Poster Exchange about the sudden disappearance of "Metropolis" from its website - co-owner Sean Linkenback - on May 4, 2012 - publicly detailed how Schacter's "Metropolis" came to him: "Ken (Schacter) later approached us about featuring the Metropolis poster on our website during our launch, and (co-owner) Peter (Contarino) was actually opposed to this, feeling correctly that we have built a sound business model and a fantastic site that will be able to stand on its own. But the price was reasonable based on its prior sale and it did allow us to take advantage of some publicity opportunities we may not have had otherwise, so Peter relented and we did spotlight the poster."

* In the end, a relieved DeLuca told me. "I'm absolutely thrilled with what happened. This was the highlight of my collecting year and I eagerly await for a phone call for the next batch of posters someone wants to sell."

* Ralph DeLuca's poster website is at

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