The metallic endoskeleton for stop-motion SFX guru Willis O’Brien’s King Kong (from the 1933 film of the same name) has just been sold at auction by Christie’s of London.
This particular version of the mighty Kong — 55 centimetres high, with ball and socket joints and once covered in cotton and rubber to form muscles, a latex overlay for skin and rabbit fur — was one of three models used in the making of the film. Two smaller ones undertook acting duties during the Skull Island jungle sequences, and this larger model was the one that crashed around in New York, climbed the Empire State Building and fought the airplanes.
The skull was made of aluminium, modeled from a wooden carving.
Photo: EFE/Andy Rain
The historic armature, unique of its kind and a significant piece of cinematic memorabilia, sold for 121,250 pounds ($218,000) at auction.
The larger model survived thanks to film fan Eugene Hilchey, who set out to gather as many King Kong artefacts as he could from 1949 onward.
He got hold of the auctioned model in 1967 when the miniature department where it was being kept was closed for demolition.
After his plans for a museum of Hollywood artefacts fell through, Hilchey entrusted the model to Bison Archives/Productions who brought it to Christie’s. (Reuters)