Cleopatra's Infamous Original Poster Art Featuring Elizabeth Taylor Hits Auction Block

by Sophia Savage
April 14, 2011 9:28 AM
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Thompson on Hollywood

Original poster art for Joseph L. Mankiewicz's 1963 film,Cleopatra, featuring Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton and Rex Harrison, will be auctioned off by Profiles in History on May 14-15 at Beverly Hills' Saban Theater. The artwork, by Howard Terpning, caused an upset when Rex Harrison was cut out for the final poster. More info on the poster, Terpning and additional auctions is below.

LOS ANGELES, CA- April 14, 2011-  The original Cleopatra poster art, one of the most infamous publicity paintings ever, is set to be auctioned off by Profiles in History on May 14 and 15 at the Saban Theater in Beverly Hills, CA. This acrylic painting, created on illustration board measuring 30" x 40" by the famed artist Howard Terpning, served as the print model for the publicity material surrounding this much-hyped epic film. Rex Harrison, one of the top billed stars was upset to find himself left out of the piece. The original only depicted Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor in a seductive and romantic pose with the studio quite happy to parlay the publicity surrounding their courtship into press for the film. Harrison sued and Terpning was required by the studio to add Harrison into the design by enlarging and reworking his original painting, also forcing the studio to reprint all affected publicity material to correct this “oversight”. Terpning has received numerous art-related awards, earning him a devoted following for his art outside of any Hollywood association. Routinely his paintings fetch several hundred thousand dollars at auction and two have broken the $1 million mark. Both a beautiful and incredibly important piece of Hollywood history.

In upcoming releases we will detail esteemed film director Frank Darabont, world-renowned poster artist Drew Struzan and special effects and makeup wizard Greg Nicotero's donation of their lots' proceeds to the Red Cross for Japanese earthquake and tsunami victims.  Other items up for auction include John Lennon's handwritten lyrics for "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds," Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, the hero filming Chitty car estimated at $1,000,000 - 2,000,000, a historic handwritten letter from Walt Disney written in 1924 to Mickey Mouse creator Ub Iwerks urging him to come out to Hollywood to be Disney's lead animator. There will be over 1,600 lots between the two days of the auction with more highlights to be released shortly.

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