A Las Vegas collectibles company has purchased the entire inventory from legendary Hollywood print store Movie Star News, with plans to auction off its nearly three million film stills, posters, and negatives beginning next year. According to the Associated Press, Irving Klaw, who co-founded the family business in 1939, started purchasing original negatives and prints that movie studios had no use for—from films like Citizen Kane and The Three Stooges—after realizing that customers in his bookstore were tearing out photos of movie stars from his books. Movie Star News then produced 8-by-10 glossy prints from the negatives, selling each for a few dollars in its Manhattan store and through its 100,000-subscriber mailing list.
Among the contents in the sprawling collection: reportedly 2,000 original prints and negatives of Frank Sinatra and Marlon Brando, 1,000 of Gary Cooper, and 400 of Bette Davis. In total, 5,000 actors and 11,500 films are referenced in the collection. Stuart Scheinman considers the archive, which his company Entertainment Collectibles reportedly acquired for seven figures, to be one of the most important in existence thanks to its rare negatives—mostly from 1939 to 1979, which have never been reproduced. Although it may take a decade to sort through the archives, Scheinman tells the A.P. that he anticipates the collection will be worth $150 million.