Original artwork used in planning the Walt Disney theme parks will go on sale for the first time Saturday at the Disney Gallery, New Orleans Square, Disneyland.
About 30 works are being offered for $1,400 to $16,500 each. Included are preliminary drawings and paintings for "Pirates of the Caribbean," "Jungle Cruise," "Enchanted Tiki Room," "Sleeping Beauty's Castle" and "Its a Small World."
"The reason for the sale relates to the concept of having a gallery at the park," John McClintock, senior publicist for Disneyland, said Wednesday. "We've been selling reproductions since we opened it a year ago, but we felt if we're going to have a gallery, we should be selling original art.
"We've determined that there is definitely an audience willing to purchase these pieces if we'd put them on sale. So it's really the next step in the evolution of the Disney gallery."
Among the artists represented in the sale are Marc Davis, Eyvind Earle and Mary Blair. While they may be unfamiliar to the general public, they are some of the studio's most influential artists.
Davis is one of the "Nine Old Men" who worked the classic Disney films. He switched to designing for Disneyland after animating Cruella DeVil in "101 Dalmatians."
Earle, now a successful artist/illustrator, created the stylized look of "Sleeping Beauty," basing his work on 15th-Century French illuminated manuscripts.
Blair, although she never worked as an animator, inspired the artists with her imaginative, brightly colored preliminary studies.
"At first, I was kind of offended at the idea of the sale," Davis said Wednesday. "Then I thought 'Why the hell not?'
"If somebody buys one of those drawings, it's going be kept with a lot more loving care than it will if someone swipes it out of the archive and smuggles it home under his coat.
"The interest in Disney memorabilia continues to amaze me," he continued. "Some people even are collecting things that we used to throw out. I went to one event where a woman was selling some of my old Christmas cards."
The sale comes at a time when virtually anything relating to Disney animation is considered a "collectible." On June 8, the New York art auction house Christie's East will offer 226 lots of animation art, virtually all of it from Disney films, with estimated prices ranging up to $20,000.
Steven Spielberg made headlines in 1986 when he paid $28,000 for a cel and background painting of the Witch from "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs." A cel is a sheet of clear acetate on which animated characters are traced.
At the opposite end of the economic spectrum, an enthusiastic group of collectors regularly buy, sell and trade anything and everything that bears the likeness of a Disney character.
"We don't know if people are going to gobble up this material or bide their time and look it over," McClintock said.
"It's not inexpensive. We announced the sale to a tightly targeted audience. We suspect the buyers will be either the most dedicated connoisseurs of this type of art or the most enthusiastic Disneyana collectors."