Everybody is a collector, the way Joe Maddalena sees it, just not everybody wants to collect paintings by Andy Warhol or Roy Lichtenstein. Some would prefer to own a Spider-Man costume.
"It's the same exact thing as collecting contemporary art," Maddalena says of buying and selling pop culture artifacts like one of the outfits Tobey Maguire wore in the "Spider-Man" movies or the gun Clint Eastwood toted in "The Outlaw Josey Wales."
"Pop culture has become the thing to collect, whether it's contemporary art or pop art," continues Maddalena, who has been in the business of buying and selling artifacts for 22 years. "And now that art has started to transfer over to film and television."
As a result, on Thursday and Friday he'll have one of his largest sales yet, putting some 1,100 items on the auction bloc. They range from sought-after pieces such as a miniature fighter ship from the first "Star Wars" movie that he expects will fetch more than $100,000 to the "Bat Radio" that Adam West used in the campy 1960s TV show "Batman" (estimated to bring $8,000 to $12,000).
Particularly big this year, Maddalena said as he prepared for the auction this week, are superhero costumes. He's not only got one worn by Maguire in "Spider-Man," but also another worn by Ben Affleck in "Daredevil" and still others worn by Ian McKellen (as Magneto) and Anna Paquin (as Rogue) in "X-Men."
And to think that Maddalena began his company, Profiles in History, as a historical documents dealership, selling things such as letters from Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson and George Washington.
He still does deal in such historic artifacts, although lately it's the pop culture items that have been creating all the buzz. That's fine with Maddalena, who loves that stuff, too.
He was buying and selling rare books, he said, "when it one day dawned on me that if I liked Dashiell Hammett and 'The Maltese Falcon,' it would be good to have the (movie) script, too."
In those days hardly anybody was buying movie or TV memorabilia, which meant it could be had on the cheap. That also meant, though, that it didn't sell for much, and Maddalena said he lost tens of thousands of dollars when he started trying to peddle it 14 years ago.
Then the baby boom generation got older, came into some money and began buying just about everything he could get hold of.
"I tell people it's nostalgia driven," he said. "I remember growing up watching 'Lost in Space,' and those are some of my happiest memories. So to have something from Will Robinson or Dr. Smith ... "
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