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Attention film buffs: 20th Century Props auction in North Hollywood

July 24, 2009 |  1:27 pm


If you're a film buff or design aficionado -- or both, you're in luck. Escape pods, giant dinosaurs, a submarine and a Frank O. Gehry carved fish -- as well as some bodacious furnishings (Jim Carrey's high back turquoise sofa from "The Mask" and Nicole Kidman's dragon armchair from her "Moulin Rouge" boudoir) -- along with about 91,748 other items will be up for auction, July 28 through Aug.1 (starting at 9:30 a.m. each day "until it's over," says owner Harvey Schwartz) at 20th Century Props in North Hollywood. (A preview of the mostly one-of-a-kind objects takes place July 25 and 27 from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. each morning before the auction. http://20thcenturyprops.com.

The largest prop house under one roof -- with 120,000 square feet of floor space -- is closing its doors after four decades of supplying all manner of objects to the film and party events industries. Here's a sampling of some of the items you can expect to see at the auction and with a little luck, take home.

T-Rex. Owner of 20th Century Props Harvey Schwartz examines dinosaur teeth in the Styrofoam T-Rex he often rented out for parties with a "Jurassic Park" theme. "It comes apart in three sections for easy transport," he says. Last rental: "CSI:NY."


Frank O. Gehry fish sculpture. About 1,000 pounds of oak and teak make up this postmodern wood sculpture (11 feet wide by 5 feet tall) designed by world famous architect Frank O. Gehry. The fish was originally commissioned for the Los Angeles Music Hall in 1988. Schwartz says he rented it only once or twice. Not surprising. The rental tab for a damaged fish: $50,000.


"The Mask" sofa. A suite of Art Deco-inspired furniture manufactured by Schwartz was used by Jim Carrey when he played Stanley Ipkiss, a.k.a. "The Mask" (2007). Carrey was nominated for a Golden Globe for his role. The set includes two sofas (one with a very high back indeed) and four armchairs.


Dr. Evil's escape pod. Dr. Evil's cryogenic escape pod is from the film, "Austin Power: International Man of Mystery" (1997). The pod also appeared in shows: "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" and "Malcolm in the Middle," as well as countless party events around town.


Paris Hilton perfume-launch sectional. Schwartz says this array of hot pink sectional sofa pieces (about 50 he guesstimates) were used for a launch party for one of Paris Hilton's fragrances -- which one he doesn't recall -- "she's had so many."


"Moulin Rouge" boudoir chair. Nicole Kidman as can-can dancer Satine in "Moulin Rouge" (2001) sat in this hand-carved boudoir chair. Made of MDF (medium-density fiberboard), it sports carved dragon arms and a comfy velvet cushion. It has also appeared in "Ugly Betty" as well as events at Disneyland.


"The King of Queens' " discs. Psychedelic wall hangings composed of colorful discs (approximately 14 feet high and 6 feet wide) have appeared in the TV show "The King of Queens," as well as many music videos and Hollywood Bowl events.



Howard Hughes' desk.  This Art Deco desk once belonged to Howard Hughes and also appeared in "The Aviator" (2004). (Oh my, I wonder if Leonardo DiCaprio touched it?) Other productions where the desk has appeared, include: "Public Enemies," "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang," "Weeds," "Pushing Daisies" and "Frasier."













"Batman" angels.  In addition to being in "Batman," this pair of 16-foot-tall angels can be seen in "Dreamgirls," as well as "Ellen DeGeneres"' shows, "Without a Trace" and "Malcolm in the Middle." Schwartz keeps a pair for himself in his backyard.












Claudette Colbert's "Cleopatra" chair/throne.  Claudette Colbert sat in this painted silver-and-gold chair in her role as Cleopatra in Cecil B. DeMille's 1934 film. It's also appeared in videos for Enrique Iglesias and Queen Latifah.

-- Barbara Thornburg

Photos by Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times