Italian Casablanca poster auctions for $478,000

A rare Italian poster for classic 1946 film Casablanca has sold for $478,000 – smashing its $360,000 estimate.

The beautifully restored piece, thought to be the only example of this design left in existence, was the star lot of Heritage Auctions' movie posters sale from July 29-30.

Casablanca Italian poster

Created by celebrated poster designer Luigi Martinati

"Italian posters are well known for being superior to their American counterparts, but this illustration by Luigi Martinati is perhaps the best image found in any of this film's numerous advertisements," explains the auction house.

The strong price makes it the joint-second most valuable movie poster in auction history, alongside a rare piece from 1927's London After Midnight.

The top spot remains 1927's Metropolis poster. Just four examples of Fritz Lang’s masterwork exist. One sold in 2012 for $1.2 million alongside a handful of other film posters.

Heritage Auctions’ director of vintage posters, Grey Smith, comments: "This Casablanca rarity is one of the finest in the entire hobby.

"To own this poster is on par with owning the pinnacle of poster art."

Also selling well was a different version of the Metropolis poster. It made $215,000. A poster advertising 1933's Supernatural achieved $107,550.

Away from the posters, two original scripts from 1932 horror film Freaks sold for $3,824.

Featuring heavy doses of mutilation and murder, and starring a circus sideshow cast, it was MGM's attempt to surpass Universal's Dracula the previous year.

It is today a cult classic.

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