After the National Screen Service (NSS) ceased most of its movie posters which they had stored in warehouses around the US and UK, ended up in the hands of private collectors and dealers. Today, there is a thriving collectables market in movie posters and some have become very valuable. The very first auction by a major auction house that consisted solely of movie posters occurred on 11th December 1990, when an auction of 271 vintage movie posters by Bruce Hershenson owner of emovieposter.com sold at Christie’s for $935,000.
The highest ever recorded price for a movie poster was set on 15th November 2005 when $690,000 was paid for a poster of Fritz Lang’s 1927 film Metropolis from Reel Poster Gallery in London. It has long been rumoured that purchaser of this poster was Leonardo DiCaprio, who it is understood to have a very impressive movie poster collection. The poster was created by German painter Heinz Schulz-Neudamm. The film is based on the novel of the same name by Fritz Lang’s wife Thea Von Harbou about the dystopian future of the year 2000. Metropolis is generally considered a masterpiece of early German filmmaking and the forerunner of modern science fiction movies.
To find out what the Top 10 most expensive movie posters of all time, continue reading below.
A US One Sheet for the 1931 horror film, Frankenstein, starring Boris Karloff, which went for $198,000 in 1993. Like nearly all the top 10, it’s a classic horror film from the 1930s, advertised with dramatic graphic blocks.
Flying Down to Rio
A US One Sheet for the 1933 dance film, Flying Down to Rio, starring Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers, which fetched $239,000 in 2008. Fun and exuberant, it looks like a 1930s air-voyage ad as much as anything else.
A US 3 Sheet for the 1933 monster movie, King Kong, starring Robert Armstrong and Fay Wray. This is known as the ‘Style A’ design and was sold for $244,500 in 1999. For comparison, the image shown is for the ‘Style B’ three sheet.
The Black Cat ‘Style D
The first of two appearances by the 1934 horror film, The Black Cat, starring Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi. This is known as the ‘Style D’ US One Sheet and was sold for $286,800 in 2007. Look at those cat’s eyes!
A US One Sheet for the 1931 horror film, Dracula, starring Bela Lugosi. This poster was owned by the actor Nicolas Cage. It sold for $310,700 in 2009 when Cage sold off his movie poster collection. Paying such big money for posters could be the “strangest passion the world has ever known”.
The Bride of Frankenstein
US One Sheet for the 1935 horror film, The Bride of Frankenstein, starring Boris Karloff. This sold for $334,600 in 2007.
The Black Cat
The second appearance for the 1934 film, The Black Cat, starring Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi. This is known as the ‘Style B’ and some would say less dramatic than the ‘Style D’ version featured in our seventh spot. However, it sold for significantly more in 2009 reaching $334,600.
Metropolis ‘German Domestic’
A German 3 Sheet for the 1927 film, Metropolis. Arguably the most beautiful poster ever designed by German graphic artist Heinz Schulz-Neudamm. This poster from Fritz Lang’s silent masterpiece, sold for $357,750 in 2000.
Boris Karloff is the king of the high-priced movie poster: with his sixth entry in the Top 10. The most expensive US One Sheet poster is from the 1932 horror film, The Mummy. When it sold in 1997 for $435,500 it was the highest price ever paid for a movie poster. This was until…
The current record-holder for the world’s most expensive movie poster ever sold goes to the 1927 silent film, Metropolis. This is the ‘International’ style – It is the same design from Heinz Schulz-Neudamm as its counterpart minus the German writing at the bottom of the poster. The clean lines and delicate shading make this a wonder to behold. In 2005 it sold at the Reel Poster Gallery in London for $690,000.