Animated Art: Hot Ticket Items for Collectors

A plastic figurine of Bugs Bunny.

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All your favorite childhood movies are making a comeback in an unexpected way. Art collectors are now paying exorbitant prices for the original drawings, storyboards, and backgrounds from classic animated movies. Their most sought after item? “Cels,” which are hand-painted sheets of celluloid.

Lady and the Tramp, The Simpsons, Snow White, The Lion King, and Bugs Bunny are just some of the most popular shows and movies that are in demand right now. Some of the artwork is going for upwards of $30,000 or more.

Mike Van Eaton, owner of Van Eaten Galleries in Sherman Oaks, California, has sold his fair share of big-ticket items. According to Eaton, his gallery once sold a cel from Disney’s Lady and the Tramp for $33,460. The cel was from the iconic scene in which the dogs share a spaghetti noodle and end up kissing. Other big-ticket items include an early drawing from Cinderella which sold for $54,970.

“Over the past five years, we have seen a 20% increase every year,” Eaten stated.

But Eaton’s not the only one getting in on the action. Jim Lentz, Director of Animation Art Sales at Heritage Auctions, has also seen a huge spike in demand. He once sold an original painting of Bugs Bunny by Warner Bros. animator and director Chuck Jones for $20,315.

And if you think it’s only rich, old people buying this artwork, think again. Lentz says that a lot of his clientele are Millennials. However, he was also quick to note the differences between younger collectors and older collectors.

According to Lentz, Millennials are collecting pieces from more recent shows such as Family Guy and The Simpsons. Meanwhile, Generations Xers are collecting pieces from older shows such as Super Friends and Scooby Doo. 

It just goes to show that you never know what something could be worth someday. So if you’re lucky enough to have a piece of historical artwork, it might be worth holding onto for a while.

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