Based on its aggregate value, bids starting at $10 million will be considered for the Collection; to date, a number of potential buyers have offered between $3-5 million for individual pieces, but the owner of the Collection, former costume professional John LeBold, who assembled and painstakingly preserved it over nearly seven decades, wishes for it to be sold in its entirety and remain accessible to the public for the sake of American cinematic history.
The $10 million starting price for the extensive Hollywood Legends Collection makes this an exceptional opportunity for one buyer when compared to prices paid for single items recently auctioned from Elizabeth Taylor and Debbie Reynolds. They include $4.6 million for the “subway dress” worn by Marilyn Monroe in The Seven Year Itch (the Hollywood Legends Collection has Monroe’s gold lamé gown from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes), $1.1 million for Judy Garland’s blue cotton “test dress” from The Wizard of Oz (the Collection has the actual blue-checkered pinafore & white blouse featured in the movie) and $4.4 million for the Ascot dress worn by Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady (the Collection has Hepburn’s white chiffon gown from Sabrina, among other Hepburn apparel). For Elizabeth Taylor fans, the Collection includes her famous strapless, off-white gown from A Place in the Sun, which Los Angeles Times Magazine called “the prototype of the perfect debutante dress... the most copied dress of its time,” as well as Taylor’s ornate falcon headdress and jewelry from Cleopatra.
Among other iconic Hollywood couture in the Hollywood Legends Collection, 99% of items still bearing the original studio label verifying their authenticity:
Vivien Leigh’s green velvet “drapery dress” and Clark Gable’s green cape from Gone With the Wind
Ingrid Bergman’s cream evening dress from Casablanca
Claudette Colbert’s gold velvet lamé embellished voluminous cape from Cleopatra
Rita Hayworth’s black satin ball gown and long matching gloves from Gilda
Errol Flynn’s tunic, tights, belt and cape from The Adventures of Don Juan
Marlene Dietrich’s silk velvet evening gown and feather boa from Shanghai Express
Humphrey Bogart’s blue pinstripe “Lucky Suit” from The Maltese Falcon
Bob Hope’s cream and gold wool jacket from Road to Morocco
Yul Brynner’s red brocade slippers from The King and I
Gene Kelly’s black and beige satin striped cape from An American in Paris
James Dean’s jeans and beige work shirt from Giant
Peter Sellers’ gold silk smoking jacket from Prisoner of Zenda
Madeline Kahn’s lavender crepe turban from Young Frankenstein
Julie Andrews’ black & white crepe flapper dress from Thoroughly Modern Millie
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s leather jacket, pants, t-shirt, belt and boots from Terminator 2
The Collection also includes costumes worn by such film stars as Tallulah Bankhead, John Barrymore, Clara Bow, Richard Burton, Sean Connery, Joan Crawford, Tom Cruise, Tony Curtis, Bette Davis, Doris Day, Farrah Fawcett, Henry Fonda, Greta Garbo, Cary Grant, Jean Harlow, Katharine Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Ryan O’Neal, Jack Palance, Vincent Price, Ginger Rogers, Jane Russell, Lana Turner, Rudolph Valentino and Mae West, among many others.
A number of iconic props also populate the Collection, including Charlie Chaplin’s bamboo cane used in many of his films, the jewel box and two tablets carried by Charlton Heston in The Ten Commandments, the Maltese Falcon statue from that film, and the golden idol from Raiders of the Lost Ark.
A convention center would be needed to exhibit the full breadth of the Collection, which includes 887 costumes; more than 6300 lobby cards; over 115,000 photos including oversized portraits, 8x10s, keybook photographs and movie stills; negatives; scripts; press books; magazines; programs; song sheets; scrapbooks and other memorabilia. It also includes components of the 1987 DeMille Dynasty Exhibition, designed by Oscar-winning art director Eugenio Zanetti. The Collection has had some A-list supporters over the years. Bette Davis called it “a sumptuous treat...a glorious collection...so vast and so very complete.” Joan Crawford found it to be a “totally impressive collection of movie treasures... Thank God someone had the sense to save all these wonderful memories.”
For three decades John LeBold and his Collection traveled to every continent of the world, notably in exhibitions for Emperor Hirohito of Japan, for Princess Alexandra Borgheses of Rome, and in a seven-year tour of Russia. It has also been displayed throughout the U.S. at museums, malls and other venues including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Science and Industry, the Motion Picture Academy, Planet Hollywood and the 50th anniversary of Bloomingdale’s. The Collection has been used to raise money for a variety of causes and charities, including the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
The sale of the Hollywood Legends Collection will benefit two charitable organizations:
The Giving Back Fund (GBF) is a national public charity that creates and professionally manages charitable foundations and other philanthropic programs for athletes, entertainers, business entrepreneurs, and corporations. Since our founding in 1997, GBF has created an important niche in expanding and diversifying philanthropy, particularly among young people, women and people of color. Our unique structure allows donors to direct more of their charitable dollars to causes they care about and less to administrative overhead. To date, The Giving Back Fund has provided philanthropic consulting, management and programming to more than 200 athletes, entertainers, entrepreneurs, and other high net worth individuals. GBF has overseen the distribution of more than $40,000,000 in charitable grants within the United States and other countries, and has developed dozens of unique scholarship, mentoring, medical, arts, and other philanthropic programs. For additional information, please visit www.givingback.org
Americana Dance Theatre – Dedicated to preserving American folk history, Americana Dance Theatre (www.aimeeentertainment.com/americana.htm) was founded in 1972 by celebrated chanteuse Joyce Aimée. Owner of 20% of the Hollywood Legends Collection, having rescued some of its pieces herself, she is the agent of John LeBold under the auspices of her Aimée Entertainment. Along with 25 years of managing and producing the American Folk Ballet, as well as representing many acclaimed artists such as Agnes de Mille , Lee Theodore and the American Dance Machine and Oscar winning production designer and director Eugenio Zanetti. She has organized and produced exhibitions around the world including the critically acclaimed Demille Dynasty Exhibition documenting a century of contributions of one American family. She has also served for 15 years as Commissioner of the Arts in the County of Los Angeles and produced many award winning documentaries.