Holy Grail of Lost Cinema

Rare horror movie poster fetches world-record bid at Dallas auction

Rare horror movie poster fetches world-record bid at Dallas auction

London After Midnight Poster from Heritage Auctions
The U.S. release one sheet for London After Midnight sold for a record $478,000 at Heritage Auctions on November 22.  Photo courtesy of Heritage Auctions

Last month, a one sheet of a classic silent mystery flick sold at Heritage Auctions for a record $478,000, making it the most valuable movie poster ever sold at public auction. It is the only remaining poster of its type for the U.S. release of the 1927 film London After Midnight.

The lost MGM film, directed by Tod Browning, starred Lon Chaney, now best known for his titular roles in The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Phantom of the Opera. In London After Midnight, “The Man of a Thousand Faces” — so nicknamed for his ability to transform himself with makeup — played in dual roles, as an inspector from Scotland Yard and “the man in the beaver hat,” which was a vampire, according to the script.

The one sheet was featured in Heritage’s Vintage Movie Posters Signature Auction on November 22, and it was purchased by an anonymous horror movie poster collector. The entire auction totaled $2.35 million.

“This is one of the most sought-after posters of the 20th century and the only example known to exist,” said Grey Smith, director of vintage movie posters for Heritage, in a release. “The movie is considered to be one the 'holy grails' of lost cinema.”

The previous record for a one sheet movie poster was $453,500, for Boris Karloff's 1932 horror classic The Mummy, which sold in March 1997.

Heritage Auctions has now set a second world record in as many years. Last year, it sold an original 1931 insert for the Universal Studios horror flick Frankenstein for $262,900.

“Of the top 10 most valuable posters ever sold, we’ve had the pleasure of selling seven of them,” Smith added.