Marlon Brando's effects sell for $2.4 million
NEW YORK - Hollywood legend Marlon Brando's personal effects were auctioned on Thursday in a sale that raised more than $2.4 million, but which Brando's biographer said would have the renowned recluse "turning over in his grave."
Fans and collectors flocked to Christie's salesroom and telephone bidders called in from around the world during the 6 1/2 hour auction. The final tally for the 320 items sold was well above the presale estimate of about $1 million.
Many of the lots featured scripts, pictures, clothing and other materials from Brando's movies. His annotated script from "The Godfather" collected $312,800 -- a record for an auctioned film script -- and far surpassed the $10,000-$15,000 estimate.
A note from "The Godfather" author Mario Puzo appealing to Brando to take the starring role garnered $132,000, much more than the anticipated $800-$1,200. And a telegram to Marilyn Monroe when she was hospitalized for depression sold for $36,000. It was predicted to fetch between $300 and $500.
Marlon's daughter, Rebecca Brando, told Reuters she was happy with the way the auction was conducted, but said it was an emotional day for her.
"It is sad ... all these things were part of my childhood," she said.
Proceeds will be split among Brando's nine children, all of whom she said were in favor of the auction.
But Brando biographer Peter Manso said, "I think the whole auction is creepy and I can tell you I'm not the only one who thinks so after spending two days with (Brando's son) Christian."
"The auction borders on complete tastelessness and Brando would never, ever, ever have wanted this," the author of "Brando: The Biography" told Reuters by telephone.
According to Manso, Brando left instructions that his bedroom be sealed with a padlock after his death.
"I can assure you Marlon is turning over in his grave to think that someone has his driver's license."
Even mundane items went for thousands of dollars. At auction, a pair of Brando's California driver's licenses went for $25,000. A collection of credit cards sold for $10,000. And a burrwood coffee table made by Brando garnered $5,500, double the estimate.
A 1959-dated letter from Martin Luther King Jr. asking for Brando's help with the youth march for integrated schools was sold for $11,000, nearly three times its pre-auction estimate.
In addition to the high-rolling professional collectors, many fans showed up to join in the bidding.
Margaret Meyer said she heard about the auction on the radio and flew to New York City from Buffalo at the last minute because she loved Marlon Brando since she was a child.
"He's been my favorite actor since I was 10," said Meyer, who snared a framed set of American Indian beaded necklaces that she said she will either wear or hang on her wall.
New Yorker Joseph Tandet said he came to try to buy something for his cousin, who, he said, had dated Brando, "before he was Marlon Brando."
Brando, regarded as one of the world's greatest actors, launched his career after a stage performance as a swaggering brute in "Streetcar Named Desire." He later immortalized the role in the 1951 screen version.
He won Oscars for "On the Waterfront" in 1954 and "The Godfather" in 1972, and influenced subsequent generations of actors.
The enigmatic actor shunned mainstream Hollywood and advocated environmental and Native American causes. He died in July of lung failure at the age of 80.
His estate, worth just over $20 million, was split among his nine children after he died.