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Fame Brands : Stars’ Trinkets Are Treasures to Buyers at Celebrity Auction

Times Staff Writer

As art, it might not have looked like much. But the orange oil painting with the crudely drawn green stripe was treasure to Tom Hartzog.

By bidding $350 for the painting at an entertainment memorabilia auction in Woodland Hills on Thursday, Hartzog, 49, of Atlanta, became the proud owner of a work by one of the great artists of all time--Frank Sinatra.

“I’m more interested in who it is than what it is,” said Hartzog, declining to comment on Sinatra’s ability as a painter. The painting was appraised at about $2,000.

Inscribed to Sinatra’s daughter Tina from “Papa,” the painting was one of the more popular items at the auction, which benefited the Motion Picture and Television Hospital, Country Home and Lodge in Woodland Hills, a facility for show business veterans.

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The auction was held to raise funds to help double the capacity of the 176-bed medical and retirement facility. The $13,000 raised at the auction will go toward the $50-million goal.

Most of the auction items had been donated by celebrities, and included such collectibles as a sweater from Angie Dickinson, a “Top Gun” hat autographed by Tom Cruise, a tap-dancing practice board used by Gene Kelly and shoes worn by John Travolta.

The auction at the Warner Center Marriott Hotel was sponsored and attended by hospital staff members. They were not expert collectors of Hollywood memorabilia, but they knew what they liked.

Football Sells for $50

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Jeff Davis, director of plant operations, paid $50 for a football signed by football great O.J. Simpson.

“O.J. has always been my hero,” said Davis, 43. “He was the greatest player of football in history. I mean, there was no one greater than him. To own something like this is beyond belief. This is going on my mantle, and if anyone touches it, I’ll kill ‘em.”

Jim Scieszinki, 48, an electrical engineer, paid $350 for a framed and autographed 1955 photo of Bob Hope. He was relatively nonchalant about his purchase.

“I’ve always liked him, so I just thought I’d get it,” Scieszinki said.

Scieszinki appeared more excited when Lorene Yarnell, formerly of the Shields and Yarnell mime team, prodded him into buying dinner at a Santa Monica restaurant for $170. “Come on, I’ll be your date,” Yarnell said. “That’s a promise.”

But no one was more excited than Tom Hartzog with his painting by Frank Sinatra. He said he owns paintings by Marilyn Monroe, James Dean and Ruth Gordon. Hartzog was in town on business and had heard about the auction from friends.

“I was willing to pay a whole lot more for this,” he said. “This will be a great addition to my house. I like contemporary art, so this will fit in just fine. A month ago, I was in the third row watching him sing. Now, I have one of his paintings. I’m in heaven.”


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