Archived Story

Welles’ camera, other items up for auction

Published 9:00am Saturday, April 5, 2014

PHOENIX — The youngest daughter of director and writer Orson Welles is giving film buffs a chance to buy some of his personal possessions, including a camera, scripts and photos from the set of “Citizen Kane.”

Beatrice Welles discovered the relics last year in boxes and trunks and decided to put them up for auction. She said her father would have preferred making the memorabilia available to film buffs and fans as opposed to sending them to a museum.

“It’s about the last thing he would’ve wanted. He just did not believe in schooling, he did not believe in academic things,” Beatrice Welles said in a telephone interview from her Sedona, Ariz., home. “And museums kind of have that connotation and I thought ‘No, this is not right for him.”’

In all, she is handing more than 70 items over to Heritage Auctions, which will stage the auction on April 26.

Margaret Barrett, director of entertainment-related auctions, declined to speculate on any possible bidding amounts but said she expects all the lots to fetch decent bids.

“People are still talking about him decades after his death,” Barrett said. “One of the enduring signs of fame is when young people know who someone is — someone who might have passed away decades ago.”

Barrett said she thinks Welles’ old Bell & Howell movie camera will be one of the bigger sellers. According to his daughter, he used the camera for home movies. In fact, one of the photos in another lot up for bidding shows Welles using the camera to record a bullfight in Spain.

Other items are reminders of Welles’ more painful Hollywood experiences. Two scripts for “The Magnificent Ambersons,” a 1942 film he wrote and directed, reveal two different endings Welles had in mind; neither ended up in the film. The movie, which centers on a spoiled heir’s attempt to keep his mother from marrying her first love, was famously re-edited by someone else.

“They kept on changing his pictures around and not letting him finish them. That hurt him,” Beatrice Welles said. “The only one he was allowed to do completely from start to end was ‘Citizen Kane.”’