#3. Genie from "Aladdin":
A depiction of the Genie from the Disney movie "Aladdin", in which he "radiates in magic swirls as he becomes free", went up for auction at Sotheby's in New York in October, 1993. The cel fetched a final bid of $79,500 USD. Unfortunately, a picture of this cel was unavailable to the authors of this list. If you have a picture file of the cel, let us know!
The animation celluloid (or cel, spelt with one "l") is the most sought after form of animation art. The cel is made by the artist, who traces the outline of his drawing onto a sheet of celluloid or acetate in ink. They wait for the ink to dry, turn the cel over, and paint is applied to the back of the cel. After this, the cel is ready to be photographed. Why are cels so rare and collectible? One obvious reason is that with the advent of computer graphics, cels are no long used for animation (the last movie to use cels was "The Little Mermaid" in 1989). Another is that cels were often erased, then reused for another scene or movie to save money (even Walt Disney did this in his early years). Storage could also be a problem. The typical animated film would have 24 frames (cels) per second. That would make literally hundreds of thousands of cels for the average movie. A tragic event occured in the late 60's, when Warner Brothers destroyed nearly all the art they had in storage, because they had no room for it!
So which are the most valuable animation cels in the world?
#10. The Little Mermaid:
In December, 1990, Sotheby's held an auction featuring art from The Little Mermaid, a Disney feature film released in 1990. It was significant because this film was the last to use traditional hand drawn animation, using cels. The highest price paid was $25,300 USD for an elaborate dining room scene piece, used as a background. This is quite an obscure piece, therefore an actual picture of the cel was not available. If you have a copy of this cel, let us know!
#9. Fantasia featuring Mickey Mouse:
In 1938, Walt Disney decided to feature his favorite character, Mickey Mouse, in a cartoon version of "The Sorcerer's Apprentice". Mickey was cast as the apprentice whose misuse of the sorcerer's powers causes disaster. In June, 2000, this cel was sold at Sotheby's for $35,250 USD.
#8. Mulan featuring Mulan and Shang
#7. Mulan featuring Shan Yu and Falcon:
In 1998, Disney studios released Mulan, a popular feature film set in ancient China. To save her father from death in the army, a Chinese maiden secretly goes in his place and becomes one of China's greatest heroes in the process. In March of 1999 Sotheby's held an auction featuring animation art from the film. The two highest priced items make number eight and seven on our list.
Shan Yu and Falcon sold for $43,700 USD
Sotheby's New York, March 1999
Mulan and Shang sold for $39,500 USD
Sotheby's New York, March 1999
#6. Who Framed Roger Rabbit:
The box office champ of 1988 was the live action/animated film "Who Framed Roger Rabbit". It is still considered a milestone in the history of animation, with seamless unity of live and animated characters. It also renewed adult interest in animation in the U.S. In 1989, this cel from the finale of the movie sold for $50,600 USD at Sotheby's, New York.
#5. 101 Dalmations:
In February 2005, an animation cel from "101 Dalmations" sold at Sotheby's for $61,000 USD. The cel was notable as it was incsribed to John F. Kennedy Jr, and signed by Walt Disney himself.
In our opinion, this is the best cel on the list. In January 2005, this original production drawing depicting Mickey Mouse in Fantasia sold for $65,000 at American Royal Arts.
#2. "The Orphan's Benefit" featuring Mickey Mouse & Donald Duck:
"The Orphan's Benefit" (from Walt Disney, 1934) wasn't a full length feature film, but it was a landmark cartoon for Disney characters. It introduced Donald Duck, Clara Cluck, Horace Horsecollar, and Clarabelle Cow. In addition, Goofy first used his name correctly in this film. In 1989, in a private transaction, an anony"mouse" (sorry) collector paid $400,000 USD for this original cel. It was the highest price paid for a cel at the time.
#1. "The Band Concert" featuring Mickey Mouse:
"The Band Concert" was released by Disney in 1935, and is noted as the first color Mickey Mouse cartoon. In it, Mickey is trying to lead a concert of the William Tell Overture, amid various distractions such as Donald Duck playing the wrong tune on his flute, a pesky bee, and a violent storm. Despite these disruptions, the band keeps playing! This original cel was sold in a private transaction in 1999 for a reported $420,000 USD. (Our thanks to cuckoocomics.com for the updated information).
World's Most Expensive Animation Cels: