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Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information

Charlie Chaplin’s bowler hat and cane auctions for $62,500 at Bonhams

Charlie Chaplin’s bowler hat and cane fetched $62,500 at Bonhams Entertainment Memorabilia auction on November 18 in Los Angeles. The sale featured a wide variety of items related to Hollywood, Rock & Roll and Animation Art. Highlights include pieces connected to Charlie Chaplin, Marilyn Monroe, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, Frank Sinatra, Charles Schulz’s ‘Peanuts,’ Bugs Bunny, Sammy Davis Jr. and Bing Crosby.

Leading the sale was Charlie Chaplin’s trademark bowler hat and cane (est. $40,000-60,000, sold for $62,500). As legend has it, the famous origins of the ‘Tramp’ persona were concocted almost spontaneously in a dressing room at Keystone Studio right here in Hollywood – one rainy afternoon nearly 100 years ago.

Chaplin created an inspiring ensemble of contrasts: he borrowed Fatty Arbuckle’s voluminous trousers, Charles Avery’s tiny jacket, Ford Sterling’s size 14 shoes (which he was obliged to wear on the wrong feet to keep them falling off), a too-small derby belonging to Arbuckle’s father-in-law, and a mustache intended for Mack Swain’s use, which he trimmed to toothbrush size.

Dr. Catherine Williamson, Director of Entertainment Memorabilia, said of the top lot: “Interest in Charlie Chaplin and the golden age of Hollywood remains strong. We were pleased to offer such an iconic piece of Hollywood history.”

Also of note was a handwritten letter by John Lennon with a nude drawing of him and Yoko sent to Ralph Ginzburg, publisher of “Avant Garde” Magazine regarding the infamous and controversial “Two Virgins” album cover (est. $18,000-22,000, sold for $25,000).

Within the animation section of the auction was an early Charles Schulz Peanuts daily, dated 1966, featuring a classic image of Snoopy as the Red Baron (est. $10,000-15,000, sold for $28,750); a Charles Schulz Peanuts daily, dated 1977, displaying a classic image of Snoopy holding his dog bowl to his ear, listening for the sound of a restaurant (est. $ 7,000-10,000, sold for $11,875); a Friz Freleng celluloid from the Academy Award® nominated “Hiawatha’s Rabbit Hunt,” 1940s, depicting Elmer Fudd dressed as Hiawatha setting the fire under the cauldron that Bugs Bunny is bathing in (est. $800-1,200, sold for $20,000) and property from the celebrated commercial artist, Disney animator, caricature artist and director, Thornton Hee, known affectionately as “T. Hee.”

Highlights connected to Marilyn Monroe included a large photograph archive, comprising film stills, wardrobe and publicity images of the star (est. $15,000-20,000, sold for $21,250); a watercolor on paper costume design by Rose Loomis for Monroe in the film “Niagara,” 1953 (est. $300-400, sold for $ 6,000) and a signed photograph of the star wearing a bathing suit (est. $3,000-5,000, sold for $4,000).

As well, a group of paintings by singer, actor and entertainer Frank Sinatra was prominently featured within the summer auction. Sinatra began painting in the 1970s, focusing primarily on clowns. He later developed his own style, shifting from representational canvases to abstract art. Works of note by Sinatra included a colorful abstract from 1971 (est. $3,000-5,000, sold for $10,625); a square, 30 inch abstract painting (est. $5,000-7,000, sold for $9,375) and a large abstract painting (est. $5,000-7,000, sold for $6,875). Each painting is signed or initialed by the artist.

Items of note from the rock & roll section of the sale included a poster advertising a Jefferson Airplane performance at the Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco from 1966 (est. $1,000-1,500, sold for $6,000); a first printing of a “Pinnacle” concert poster designed by John Van Hamersveld for Jimi Hendrix ‘s February 10, 1968 concert at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles (est. $1,500-2,000, sold for $6,000) and an iconic “Flying Eyeball” concert poster designed by Rick Griffin for a February 1968 concert in San Francisco with Hendrix, John Mayall, The Bluebreakers and Albert King at The Fillmore and Winterland. The poster depicts a fiery hole with a flying eyeball holding a skull at its center, symbols which are very representative of Griffin’s art. A first printing of this poster, it is one of the most desirable pieces of 1960s rock art (est. $1,500-2,000, sold for $6,250)

Additional highlights from the November auction included a pair of George Reeves signed photographs in character as “Superman” (est. $800-1,200, sold for $6,000); a selection of personal items from Bing Crosby led by a silver horseshoe money clip (est. $2,000-3,000, sold for $3,500) and a pair of Sammy Davis Jr.-owned Bally dark brown woven leather boots (est. $300-400, sold for $1,375), among others.