He’s already made Christmas history: now, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is poised to go down in auction history. On Nov. 13, the Profiles in History auction house will open bidding on two ultra-rare puppets from the 1964 stop-motion animated special based on the beloved seasonal story.
Originally designed by celebrated Japanese craftsman, Ichiro Komuro, for the television production overseen by Arthur Rankin Jr. and Jules Bass, the 11-inch Santa Claus and 6-inch Rudolph have lived with collector Peter Lutrario since 2005. In a recent interview with the Associated Press, the Staten Island-based reindeer fan confessed that he never expected to sell them. “I always said I would die with the dolls,” he said.
But Lutrario changed his tune when he turned 65 and started thinking about the inheritance he hoped to leave to his kids and grandkids. Enter Profiles in History, which anticipates that the two-figure set will collect between $150,000 to $250,000 on the open auction market, both due to the nostalgia factor and the fact that they remain in camera-ready condition.
“They’re still malleable,” Lutrario told the Associated Press. “And it’s very detailed. Not only can you move the arms, the legs, the head, you can move the fingers, the thumbs.”
Lutrario acquired the figures after seeing them appraised on an episode of Antiques Roadshow. Prior to that, they remained in the Rankin/Bass family, which received a major glow-up after the TV special became a perennial Christmas favorite. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer made the fledgling company an animated powerhouse that produced such holiday TV staples as Frosty the Snowman, The Year Without a Santa Claus and Jack Frost. In the 1970s, Rankin gifted Santa and Rudolph to his secretary, who later awarded them to her nephew.
As the only known surviving puppets from the 1964 special, Profiles in History considers this auction something of a Christmas miracle. “Their significance in the history of popular culture cannot be overstated,” reads the official auction guide. Expect the lucky winner of Santa and Rudolph to shout out with glee on Nov. 13.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is available for purchase on Vudu; the Profiles in History auction will be held on November 13
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