Of the several reality shows that find valuable things in the attic, from “Antiques Roadhouse” to “American Pickers,” one concentrates soley on artifacts from movies.
“Hollywood Treasure” began this week on what some may think is an odd outlet for it, the Syfy network.
But, producer Jerry Sheick says, “Syfy was actually our first choice for this.”
Science fiction is the basis of a lot of the items they deal in, he says.
“Sixties television is the most popular thing,” says Joe Maddalena who runs the Hollywood based memorabilia shop covered in the series. “Anything ‘Lost in Space,’ and anything from the great ’60s TV shows, maybe even into the ’70s — that genre, especially sci-fi, is red hot.”
Much of the first show involves items from that classic fantasy “The Wizard of Oz,” and features a couple of spacecraft from 1960s shows.
The pointed hat of the Wicked Witch of the West, which goes up for auction in the premiere, was something they were tracking for years, says Maddalena.
“It has impeccable provenance. The original bill of sale from MGM, Margaret Hamilton’s Wicked Witch’s hat, with the original catalog,” he told reporters at press tour. “We’ve been literally for four years chasing this woman to get her to depart with this hat.”
What’s still missing from “Oz” after 70 years?
“There’s a fabled pair of ruby slippers that are missing. The Tin Man costume might be somewhere in Colorado.”
There are a lot of classic Hollywood artifacts that are missing,” Maddalena says. “There could have been more ‘Rosebud’ sleds. There could have been another Maltese Falcon. Nobody really knows and can quantify how much of this stuff there was,” he says. “If you go back to the early serials like ‘Flash Gordon’ and ‘Buck Rogers,’ everything is missing. So, you know, I would say pre-World War II, it’s wide open. Very few of the made props exist that we know of.”
And sometimes they find things they didn’t know existed.
“A client of mine went to a yard sale and basically, in a trunk, found an original Frankenstein six sheet, which is a very large poster. It’s worth a million dollars. It’s the only one known to exist. It is the most valuable movie poster in the world.”
Maddalena’s road to Hollywood memorabilia came through the Founding Fathers.
“I started a company called ‘Profiles in History.’ We sell historical documents — letters of Lincoln, Jefferson, Beethoven, Mozart. My interest is American literature, Hammett, Fitzgerald, Hemingway.
“So the natural progression was: ‘Hey, this is the “Maltese Falcon” written by Dashiell Hammett!’ I went and got a script. Took it one step further, I wanted a prop. And basically at 1996 added that element to my business.”
And as much as he loves memorabilia, it’s not tough for him to part with pieces he even loves. “You gotta realize that. Because I sell it, I might get it back in five years, so it’s not a perishable. It just goes to another home, you know, so somebody else takes care of it for a while.”
“Hollywood Treasure” runs Wednesdays at 10 and 10:30 p.m. on Syfy.