Walt Disney's 'Last Will and Testament' Goes Up For Auction, Along with Other Pieces of Disney History
This week, Walt Disney’s would have turned 115. To celebrate his birthday and the holidays, buy a piece of Disney legacy that will last forever.
Profiles in History is the world’s largest auctioneer of original Hollywood memorabilia. The Los Angeles auction house will hold an “Animation & Disneyana” online sale on Friday, December 9 at 11 a.m. Pacific Time, featuring rare vintage documents, photographs, manuscripts, and artwork from the original Disney films and franchise.
The most prominent pieces in the lot are two documents, brought to the auction house from people who’ve worked at Disney previously.
One is Walt Disney’s last will and testament, a nine-page document estimated to fetch between $40,000 to $60,000—the most expensive item going under the hammer.
The will, first signed in 1941, followed one of the company’s most important business moves, going public in 1940 to make up for lost revenue from Pinocchio and Fantasia’s poor box office performance. Thus, the document divvied up the company’s stocks, giving Mr. Disney a 60% stake.
Another is the signed document that officially launched the Disney brand, expected to sell from $60,000 to $80,000. In 1953, Mr. Disney signed these papers, giving his company license to use his name in marketing and products. This documents paved the path for Disney to become an autonomous production company—then to become an empire of branded theme parks, merchandise, experiences around the world.
“Disney, up until the early ‘50s, was basically beholden to different studios where his rights were tied up,” explained Joe Maddalena, the owner of Profiles in History. After signing the document, Mr. Disney “got all of his rights back. He then transferred them to Walt Disney Enterprises, which basically went on to create Disneyland and become this multibillion-dollar empire, so it’s probably one of the most important documents in Disney's career that we have.”
Mr. Disney drew many of the original characters on cels, or clear sheets. His cel from the first-ever Disney film, Snow White, will potentially hit $12,000 to $15,000 at auction. His cel of Jiminy Cricket from Pinocchio will go for around $20,000 to $25,000. The drawings even include a clipped signature from Mr. Disney.
In addition to original memorabilia, props and illustrations from modern Disney productions are selling, as well.
There's Artwork by famed filmmaker Tim Burton from The Nightmare Before Christmas movie (which is now distributed by Disney), and a modern-day Disney production, Pirates of the Caribbean, has a sword and skull prop for sale.
Maddalena explained how Disney is one of the most collected brands in the world—especially the items linked to the creation of the studio or theme parks.
“Really and truly, you’re buying your nostalgia,” Maddalena said of the auction.
After all, Disney and cartoons are where dreams come true.
Banner Photo Credit: Disney