Published October 09, 2009
LONDON – A tiny King Kong figurine that helped launch the career of one of cinema's biggest monsters is going up for sale, Christie's auction house said Friday.
The London auctioneer said the 22-inch skeleton was the one used in the climactic scene of the 1933 movie in which the humongous ape climbs New York's Empire State Building, clutching a blonde starlet and swatting away fighter planes.
"King Kong" wowed 1930s audiences with groundbreaking special effects that appeared to show the titular beast brawling with dinosaurs and cutting a swathe of destruction through New York City.
Much of the credit goes to Willis O'Brien, then chief technician at RKO studios, who created the monster by adding layers of cotton, rubber, liquid latex and rabbit's fur to a metal armature.
The figurines were then filmed one frame at a time, moving them ever-so-slightly between shots to give the illusion of movement.
Although several such models were used in the film, Christie's spokeswoman Jo Swetenham said this one was thought to be the largest. She added that the monster's fleshy covering has since rotted away.
The movie spawned a series of sequels and remakes, including a 1976 version starring Jeff Bridges and Peter Jackson's computer-wizardry packed "King Kong" with Jack Black, Naomi Watts and Adrien Brody.
The skeletal miniature may lack Kong's heft, but it still comes with a kingly price tag.
Christie's said it hopes to get up to about $240,000 from the figure's sale. Fans can bid for the artifact at the auctioneer's popular culture sale on Nov. 24.