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Hercules and Lion King

Starting with Roger Rabbit on June 28, 1989, Disney has held on a somewhat annual basis an art auction selling original production art from the animated film the studio released the prior year. Sotheby's, an established American auction house based in New York city, has hosted these events for Disney and has published lavishly illustrated catalogs preceding the sales. These catalogs are a wonderful index of information for the animation art collector that showcases all of the production art that has been released from the studio for sale to the public from the Disney studios contemporary features.

During these special sales, Disney has released anywhere from 150 to 270 lots that include production backgrounds, production cels, 1 of 1 non-production cels, overlays/underlays, drawings and maquettes. The art of the Little Mermaid auction was the last auction to feature original production cels from an animated feature film. All subsequent sales, Disney has produced a 1 of 1 non-production cel that was specially created for the sale of the production background (or overlays). This change certainly has not softened the market with collectors as the most successful of art sale was held on February 11, 1995 when Disney sold art created during the production of Lion King. This sale brought in nearly $2,000,000 for lots. On this special page, you will find some basic information regarding the auction sales that Disney has held through Sotheby's. These catalogs are a must for any true fan of animation art. If you are looking to buy one of these catalogs, just send me an e-mail. I might have a copy or I may know where to find one. Enjoy!

The Art of Roger Rabbit
Sale Date: June 28, 1989
Sale Number: 5886
Number of Lots: 550 cel setups
Total Dollar Sales: Not available at this time.
This sale was the first Disney auction held based upon the box office success of the film. What is interesting to know, all setups from this auction include color photographic backgrounds from the matching film frame as compared with the black & white photographic background for cels released through the Art Classics program.

The Art of Little Mermaid
Sale Date: December 15, 1990
Sale Number: 6117
Number of Lots: 283
Total Dollar Sales: $1,237,940 (inclusive of buyer's premium)
This sale was the last Disney auction that featured original production cels matched with its key production background. All subsequent auctions feature a special 1 of 1 hand-inked and painted cel with its matching production background. The Little Mermaid was the last Disney animated feature to be created using the traditional hand-painted cel methods.

The Art of Beauty and the Beast
Sale Date: October 17, 1992
Sale Number: 6345
Number of Lots: 249
Total Dollar Sales: $1,249,215 (inclusive of buyer's premium)
This sale was the first Disney auction that offered hand-painted, hand-inked 1 of 1 non-production cels matched with its key production background. It was also the first auction to offer animator's maquettes. Beauty and the Beast was the first feature film to fully utilize the Disney's computer animation production system (CAPS) which allow clean-up production drawings to be digitally inked and painted instead of the traditional physical method. The cover art was a specially created piece to benefit the fight against AIDS in the honor of the late Howard Ashman. Also, this catalog features a flip animation in the lower left hand corner of Belle and the Beast dancing in the ballroom.

The Art of Aladdin
Sale Date: October 9, 1993
Sale Number: 6470
Number of Lots: 260
Total Dollar Sales: $1,351,135 (inclusive of buyer's premium)
This sale broke previous Disney auction records and offered hand-painted, hand-inked 1 of 1 non-production cels matched with its key production background. This auction offered a specially created artpiece to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation. This piece is displayed on both the front and back covers.

The Art of the Lion King
Sale Date: February 11, 1995
Sale Number: 6665
Number of Lots: 256
Total Dollar Sales: $1,996,688 (inclusive of buyer's premium)
This sale broke previous Disney auction records and remains the highest grossing sale to date for contemporary animation art. This auction offered hand-painted, hand-inked 1 of 1 non-production cels matched with its key production background. One of the contributing factors to the success of this auction was the better than usual setups offered and the extreme popularity of the film at the box office. This remains the top animated feature for gross receipts at the box office to date. Please note that Disney has offered backgrounds from the Lion King on other occasions for sale. Most notably, a special UNICEF auction that was held on February 23, 1998. If you would like more information on this just send me an e-mail. The cover was specially created for sale to benefit National Audubon Society to support their efforts in preserving the environment and protecting endangered species.

The Art of Gargoyles
Sale Date: June 10, 1995
Sale Number: 6723
Number of Lots: 42
Total Dollar Sales: $45,080 (inclusive of buyer's premium)
This sale was offered by Disney's television unit, Buena Vista Television based upon the current popularity of its more dramatic contemporary television series, Gargoyles. A very small number of lots as compared to previous Disney offerings, but what was unique about this sale was that each lot also included the clean-up and/or layout drawings for the scene offered. This sale met with an average response from auction attendees and thus Disney has not offered any other TV properties for auction sales. They continue to offer television production art through their network of preferred galleries, select Disney stores and theme park locations. However, if you are interested in television production art, you are more likely to find a better value on the secondary market from independent art dealers. If you want to know more just send me an e-mail.

The Art of Pocahontas
Sale Date: February 24, 1996
Sale Number: 6811
Number of Lots: 289
Total Dollar Sales: $755,320 (inclusive of buyer's premium)
This sale featured artwork from Disney's Pocahontas. This sale which included the largest offering of animation art by Disney to date was also the lowest grossing in terms of hammer prices. Coming off the heels of the tremendous success of the Lion King sale the previous year, Disney offered extra artwork to supply collector demand. However the film was not as successful as Lion King and thus it showed on the auction floor. A large number of art pieces went unsold in the outcry auction, only to be sold for the reserve prices in the following days. If you were a bargain hunter, you could have definitely picked up a good deal for one of the bought-ins! If you want to know more just send me an e-mail.

The Art of the Hunchback of Notre Dame and James & the Giant Peach
Sale Date: June 21, 1997
Sale Number: 7016
Number of Lots: 152 (Hunchback), 40 (James)
Total Dollar Sales: $484,725 (inclusive of buyer's premium)
This sale featured artwork from Disney's Hunchback of Notre Dame and the stop motion film, James and the Giant Peach. The sale overall was a success and offered collector's the lowest number of setups from the studio for an animated film in the recent years. The artwork from Hunchback was colorful and the setups were nicer than the previous offerings from Pocahontas. However the film lacked the high box office receipts from the films earlier in the decade and the prices obtained at auction were much more inline with overall market expectations. If you want to know more just send me an e-mail.

The Art of Hercules
Sale Date: June 20, 1998
Sale Number: 7154
Number of Lots: 125
Total Dollar Sales: $481,662 (inclusive of buyer's premium)
This sale featured artwork from Disney's Hercules and offered the smallest number of lots for sale for a Disney animation auction. This film enjoyed similar success as experienced with Hunchback and the auction prices again reflected this. What was particularly interesting with the lots offered from Hercules was the field size for most of the backgrounds and corresponding cels. After attending the pre-show sale, the majority of the pieces offered were larger than the typical 12 and 16 field sizes. The cover piece in particular was huge. I can only imagine what the animator had to go through creating such large drawings! I wonder if the field of size was in relation to the production designer, Gerald Scarfe? If you know more about this, send me an e-mail.

The Art of Mulan
Sale Date: March 6, 1999
Sale Number: 7270
Number of Lots: 157
Total Dollar Sales: $840,000
This sale featured artwork from Disney's Mulan and featured an increased number of lots from the previous year, albeit a small amount. The film enjoyed better box office success than the previous two disney films, and the auction prices were slightly higher. What was particularly noteworthy, two lots sold for extraordinary amounts based upon collector demand. It was obvious the selection of artwork from this film was much nicer than say the offering from Beauty & the Beast. Future collector demand for these original cel setups may have some upward (investment) potential considering Disney's venture into Hong Kong. As with the past few sales, there were a handful of unsold lots that could have been purchased after the sale for a bargain.

The Art of Tarzan and Fantasia 2000
Sale Date: June 29, 2000
Sale Number: 7491
Number of Lots: 235
Total Dollar Sales: $1,094,100
Once again, Sotheby's will be hosting this somewhat annual event for Disney's latest two features. This auction will take place in two separate sessions and include backgrounds, overlays, 1 of 1 cels and maquettes. Watch her for more details once this auction takes place.

Copyright 1996, The Animation Artshop, Inc.
Last Updated February 11, 2005
Mickey Mouse and other related images Copyright, Walt Disney Company