1928 Mickey Mouse Poster Sells for Over $100,000

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Mickey Mouse Poster

Mickey Mouse Poster

Believed to be the earliest known poster of the world’s most famous mouse, a 1928 movie poster of Mickey Mouse sold Thursday for over $100,000, Dallas-based Heritage Auctions announced.

Though it had been expected to bring at least $20,000, the poster ended up selling for $101,575. The name of the winning bidder was not released.

It came from the collection of the late Crowell Havens Beech, a major movie poster collector and dealer in Northern California. The poster is considered unique.

“After buying it nearly 25 years ago, Beech secreted the poster away from everyone — even his family,” Heritage Auctions said.

In a statement, Grey Smith, director of movie poster auctions at Heritage Auctions, called the poster “an important piece of pop culture treasure.” He said that it probably was the only Mickey Mouse poster made until 1930.

A poster for another Disney cartoon — Alice’s Day At Sea, a 1924 Alice Comedy by Walt Disney for M.J. Winkler Productions — was sold at Christie’s in London for the equivalent of $36,534 U.S. in April 1994. At the time, Guinness World Records said that this was the highest price ever paid for a cartoon poster.

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One thought on “1928 Mickey Mouse Poster Sells for Over $100,000

  1. There is so much more to this story than what appears here. The bizarre chain of events that led to the poster’s sale involved an eccentric California movie poster collector, a thief, a New York City poster dealer and an alert poster expert working in Dallas for Heritage Auctions.

    The poster was purchased in 1988 from the Steve Shapiro collection by two movie poster collectors. One of the collectors, Crowell Havens Beech, took possession of the poster and hid it on top of a dresser with a piece of plywood covering it. He covered that with a tapestry. About the only other people in the world who knew the identity of the owners were Crowell’s wife, Lorraine, and Grey Smith of Heritage Auctions.

    It wasn’t until about 2005, when Crowell’s health began to fail, that he even told his children and their families of the existence of the poster and of its location.

    Crowell died in 2008. After his death, Lorraine decided to sell the balance of their movie poster collection. That’s when the family discovered that Mickey was no longer in his hiding place. Lorraine didn’t even know where Crowell had moved it to. Lorraine continued with the sale of their posters (sans Mickey) and used her and Crowell’s trusted friend Grey Smith. The family searched the house periodically for two years but could never locate it.

    Lorraine had a trip and fall accident in mid 2010. The accident resulted in a broken pelvis. She was 87 at the time and could no longer live alone. Having no children of her own, she went to live with Tracy Leighton, one of Crowell’s daughters. That left the home to sit vacant.

    The next leg of Mickey’s grand adventure began with a wild storm in January of 2011. A neighbor’s tree toppled over and struck Crowell and Lorraine’s home. The damage was relatively light and a Good Samaritan neighbor arranged to have her handyman repair the damage. Fully trusting the handyman, the neighbor gave him unsupervised access to the house so that he could check the walk up attic and other areas for possible damage from the falling tree.

    It was in the attic that the handyman found the poster. Not realizing what he had, he thought no one would be the wiser if he sold it to a movie poster dealer on the other side of the country. It almost worked.

    Unfortunately for the handyman, the New York dealer, who was an unwitting purchaser of the stolen art work, quickly put out word in the movie poster world that he had the poster for sale. That is when an alert Grey Smith learned that Mickey had been found and alerted Tracy and Lorraine.

    Lorraine, with Tracy’s help, filed a police report with the City of Belvedere police department. The New York dealer was very cooperative and provided a copy of the check written for the payment of the poster. That led to the arrest of the handyman who later admitted to the theft and plead guilty in court.

    The New York City dealer quickly and graciously turned Mickey over to heritage Auctions for safe keeping.

    Crowell’s partner in the poster, Jose Carpio, had died a few months after Crowell. It wasn’t until the summer of 2012 that Jose’s only heir could be located to authorize the sale of the poster.

    Speaking for the family, Tracy Leighton has said that they family’s hope is that the purchaser will be someone who will feel free to display and enjoy the poster so that Mickey doesn’t have to stay in hiding for another 25 years. Moreover, she noted “It’s typical for Mickey Mouse to have an adventure. And it all turned out right, just like it usually does in the cartoons.”

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