Auction Bids Top Expectations for 'Beauty, Beast' Cels

Prices regularly topped expectations for original background paintings and specially created cels from Disney's record-breaking animated feature "Beauty and the Beast" at an auction conducted by Sotheby's in Hollywood on Saturday afternoon. All 249 lots found buyers for a sale total of $1,255,815.

Unlike previous sales of Disney artwork, none of the cels actually appeared in the film: "Beauty and the Beast" was electronically colored using a computer process that won a technical Academy Award earlier this year. The cels were traced from animators' drawings and matched to backgrounds used in the feature.

A piece of artwork created in honor of lyricist Howard Ashman brought the day's highest price: A private collector paid $44,000, more than 12 times the estimate of $2,500-3,500, for a setup of six of the film's major characters in the Beast's ballroom. Ashman died of AIDS-related complications in March, 1991, and the proceeds from this lot will be donated to an AIDS program designated by his family.

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