After two days of fevered bidding, the pixie dust is finally settling on Van Eaton Galleries' historic "That's From Disneyland!" memorabilia and collectibles auction on Aug. 25-26, featuring the once-in-a-lifetime collection of Disneyland superfan Richard Kraft.
Over 800 rare and one-of-a-kind items had been on display to the public three weeks prior to the event in an abandoned Sports Authority warehouse building in Sherman Oaks, California, with two-hour wait lines forming just for the opportunity to drink in the intoxicating nostalgia.
This stellar assortment of Disneyland theme park props, store signs, attraction ride vehicles, posters, records, souvenir programs, vintage maps, pennants, guide books, limited-edition figures, concept art, parking lot signs, and even garbage cans represented one of the greatest private gatherings of manifested memories ever assembled.
After the final Lot #806 crossed the blocks at shortly before 6 p.m. on Sunday (an Enchanted Tiki Room Barker Bird Replica selling for $2,250), the jovial and somewhat saddened Kraft took to the stage himself and announced that the grand total for the entire auction had been tallied up to $8.3 million. A portion of the proceeds are being donated to the Coffin-Siris Syndrome Foundation and the Chime Institute.
The participating bidders in the room, on the phone, and on the internet all witnessed a dreamlike offering of rare Disney gems purchased from fellow collectors, Walt Disney Imagineers, and exclusive auctions over the course of 25 years following the death of Kraft's younger brother, David, in 1993. Disneyland was a special place for the two brothers, and Walt's Magic Kingdom held myriad memories of strolling the themed lands and their enticing array of attractions.
Kraft is the co-owner of Kraft-Engel Management, a specialty firm representing some of the greatest musical talents in film, TV, theater, and video games. Over the decades, Kraft has worked with such musical luminaries as Richard Sherman, Danny Elfman, Alan Menken, Maurice Jarre, Phillip Glass, Jerry Goldsmith, and Elmer Bernstein.
Hardcore Disneyland buffs, celebrities, Disney legends, and Kraft's family and friends all were in attendance for the gala weekend auction, and some of the prices hit infinity and beyond. Leave logic and sanity at the door, this is a Disneyland auction!
SYFY WIRE diligently recorded all the astonishing winning bids, including: $540,000 for a powder blue Skyway Bucket, $230,000 for a Pirates of the Caribbean entryway sign, $250,000 for an original Autopia attraction poster, $25,000 for a metal Disneyland mail box, $80,000 for the actual Submarine Voyage sea serpent, $370,000 for an original Enchanted Tiki Room Animatronic Jose Bird, $350,000 for a hand-painted Haunted Mansion stretching poster, $7,000 for a set of Star Tours travel posters, $35,000 for a Space Mountain attraction vehicle, $8,000 for a Frontierland garbage can, $220,000 for a Peter Pan's Flight ride vehicle, $420,000 for a Dumbo the Flying Elephant ride vehicle, and $75,000 for a 16-foot-tall Disneyland Hotel Neon Letter "D."
Those unsuccessful bidders around the world disheartened by the crazy amounts paid for these precious pieces of "The Happiest Place on Earth" must realize that auction-world prices and real-world prices seldom mingle. Many anonymous persons delivering whopper bids have discretionary incomes that far outreach the common man or woman and simply outbid those of us with more meager budgets.
Also, as a Disney insider, Kraft had exclusive access to many of these one-of-a-kind park props stored in warehouses over the years that were possibly sold "out the back door" and never available to the general public. And don't forget to tack on the 18-21% buyers premium and 9.25% sales tax for California residents to any of the winning lots!
Longtime Disneyland collector and historian Charlie Arnold believes this auction was a tremendous success and a wonderful opportunity for Disney fans.
"This was very generous of Richard Kraft and Van Eaton Galleries to open up this collection for public viewing free of charge," Arnold told SYFY WIRE. "As children there's a huge amount of anticipation and excitement when visiting Disneyland, and once walking under the railroad tracks into the park, it truly becomes magic. To buy a rare piece of Disneyland reignites that passion. Some of the items were truly one of a kind that knowledgeable and experienced collectors fought over. There were things sold for astronomical amounts that can easily found on eBay for far less. You were seeing impulse buying at its most extreme and proves that nostalgia sells, especially when the Disney name is attached. From a historical perspective, this was a real gold mine."
Check out our exclusive gallery of images from the "That's From Disneyland!" pop-up exhibit and auction, courtesy of Charlie Arnold, and tell us which items you'd buy if you were a billionaire.