Joe Maddalena (Profiles in History) Interview
Profiles in History are one of the world's leading memorabilia auction houses, with a reputation for handling the finest pieces of history Hollywood has to offer. The company was founded by Joe Maddalena, one of the world's leading experts in entertainment memorabilia and historical documents. Maddalena has provided expertise and analysis for hundreds of news organizations around the world, along with starring in his own show Hollywood Treasure which airs on SyFy.
Wikicollecting was lucky enough to speak to Joe about Profiles in History, how the Hollywood memorabilia market has grown in recent years and which movies could provide treasures of the future…
Profiles in History have been responsible for many of the biggest film memorabilia sales in history. Over the years, which pieces stand out as the most important or iconic to have passed through your doors?
The screen worn Ruby Slippers Judy Garland wore as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz has to be the most important. But just as important is the subway dress Marilyn Monroe wore in The Seven Year Itch.
How did the company become involved with the Debbie Reynolds Collection?
I have known Debbie and her son Todd Fisher for over twenty years. They wanted a company to handle the collection that has the same passion for Hollywood History as Debbie Reynolds and that’s why they chose us.
How surprised were you at the scale of international interest surrounding the sale and the incredible results it generated?
I was not surprised at all. Debbie Reynolds had the ‘best of the best’ and collectors came out to acquire a real piece of Hollywood History! Hollywood transcends all borders and nationalities so the world showed up for this historic event.
Are there particular names or specific films, which could be described as ‘blue chip’ within the memorabilia market?
Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Elvis Presley and Steve McQueen are the standout personalities that come to mind. Regarding films The Wizard of Oz, Gone With the Wind, Citizen Kane, Casablanca and Star Wars are tops.
Are there any important pieces out there that have yet to appear on the market? If so, what would be on the Profiles in History ‘wish list’?
So many items of importance are missing…Maria the Robot from Metropolis, the Rosebud sled from Citizen Kane, the Tin Man costume or the Wicked Witch of the West’s broomstick from the The Wizard of Oz, the Gort the Robot from 1951’s The Day the Earth Stood Still, a Marian War Machine from the 1953 War of the Worlds, the 33-inch filming miniature U.S.S. Enterprise ship from Star Trek: The Original Series, just to name a few.
Are there many collectors within the entertainment industry itself?
There are a lot. Almost every film maker, writer or director collects something. Obviously, I cannot break confidentiality by stating names.
Why do you think it took until the MGM sale in 1970 for the industry to see the value in Hollywood memorabilia?
Up to that moment in time, the studios viewed these artifacts as “industrial waste” occupying valuable storage on the studio lots. You have to keep in mind MGM sold the contents of the entire lot! The sheer size and scope and history of this fabled studio were up for grabs. People opened up their pocketbooks to save these items because the very history of Hollywood was being sold. This milestone event sparked the era of collecting Hollywood memorabilia.
The Oscars proved recently that Hollywood has grown nostalgic for the early days of cinema. Could collectors follow suit, increasing the demand for silent-era memorabilia?
Yes the silent film era is making a strong comeback—it’s the birth of the motion picture and incredibly important to Hollywood as a whole.
Are there any areas in the market, which you feel are still undervalued?
I feel the whole field is still very undervalued as most people are very surprised you can own these items. I feel this field has just started its growth and has many years to go before the market catches up to the real value of these items.
Are there any recent films or current actors whose memorabilia could become sought after in years to come?
I would say Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings are the two that will stand the test of time. I also think the Marvel films like Spider-Man, Ironman, Captain America and X-Men have a great upside potential and long-term staying power.
What’s up next for Profiles in History? Which events can collectors look forward to in 2012?
In April we are working with Marvel Entertainment to hold the Captain America: The First Avenger Auction. In July we will be selling the Dreier Collection, which has some of the most iconic props and costumes ever sold. And on May 22nd my TV show Hollywood Treasure is back on the air on Syfy at 10pm.
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