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Hollywood Treasures : Santa Paula: Movieworld Auction attracts potential bidders from as far away as Japan and Europe.

September 25, 1993|SCOTT HADLY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Loading their pickup truck with a mummy case from an Abbott and Costello movie, John Daniel and Dan Horenberger left the Movieworld Auction in Santa Paula on Friday with their mission accomplished.

"I came to buy the mummy case and I got it for a steal at $150," said Daniel, 60, a collector from Pasadena. Daniel and Horenberger, 32, also bought a small arsenal of old artillery shells, inactive land mines and a children's wooden slingshot.

The hodgepodge of treasures was part of the vast Movieworld collection of film memorabilia and antique cars that will be sold at an auction this weekend. More than 2,500 people had already viewed the items by Friday, and big crowds are also expected today and Sunday. Potential bidders have come from as far away as Europe and Japan.

The collection was amassed over 40 years ago by Jim Brucker Sr. of Somis who died in 1986 at age 67. After Brucker's widow, Ida, died last year at 72, the couple's sons, Danny, 47, and Jim, 50, decided to sell off the unique family treasure.

The brothers will auction off more than 1 million items stored in a former lemon-packing plant in Santa Paula. Among the most prized pieces of history that have been collecting dust is a car that was custom-made for the movie "The Great Race," which starred Tony Curtis and Natalie Wood.

Two urns that graced the gates of the Emerald City in the film the "Wizard of Oz" are also expected to attract fierce bidding.

The auction is being conducted by Kruse International, an auction company based in Indiana. "The items here are more interesting than the potential profit," said Allen Thomson, whose company, South Eastern Auctions of Baton Rouge, La., helped organize the sale. "I've never sold a car that was the only one of its kind in the world."

Organizers expect that the sale will generate from $1.2 million to $1.5 million. They spent 11,000 hours in preparation for the event, numbering the items and grouping them into more than 2,600 lots for bidding.

"When we came in here three months ago to set up the auction, we were hip deep in boxes in no particular order," said Jim Parker, one of the managers of the auction.

Some of the lots contain movie memorabilia, old newspapers, magazines, tools and parts for antique cars. The movie memorabilia and antique cars are expected to bring in the most money. One car collector estimated that two cars from "The Great Race" could fetch as much as $150,000 each.

For the past week, the lure of Hollywood has attracted movie fans who strolled through the warehouse to inspect the collection.

Two potential bidders from Vancouver, Canada, drove down just to bid on the antique cars, which are scheduled for sale on Sunday.

"We're interested in the European cars," said Harry Gottschalk, 57, standing in front of a 1955 Russian limousine called a Zim.

Gottschalk and his friend Roland Pirch, 57, spent Friday videotaping the 10 vintage black Cadillacs jammed into a small room in the warehouse. Both were excited by the prospect of finding a bargain.

"The secret is not to go into the bidding too early and drive up the price," Pirch said. "Sometimes people go crazy with the bidding."

On Friday, bidding was brisk as potential buyers raised their hands in response to prices called out by the auctioneer. "Ringmen" working for the auctioneer yelled out bids for buyers in the audience.

The pace seemed to please Jim Brucker Jr. as he watched from the back of the warehouse.

"It's going pretty good," Brucker said, adding that while he and his brother loved the family memories associated with the collection, it had become too big for the two of them to maintain.

The collection carries a lot of memories for Brucker's Santa Paula neighbors as well. Holding her 1-year-old daughter Katherine, Patty Egan watched potential bidders go through the warehouse and scrutinize the Bruckers' collection.

"It's kind of like a passing," said Egan of the items being auctioned off. "It's like a secret that we had that's going away."

FYI

The auction of movie memorabilia and other items from the Movieworld collection will continue today and Sunday, starting at 9 a.m. both days, at the Movieworld warehouse, 18245 Telegraph Road at Hallock Drive, in Santa Paula. Registration for bidding costs $10. For more information, call (800) 968-4444.

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