In a landscape changing move, Profiles in History, the world’s largest auctioneer of Hollywood memorabilia, is joining forces with Dallas-based Heritage Auctions, the third largest auction house in the world, creating an imposing pop culture collectibles team, Antique Trader has learned.
An official announcement on the partnership is expected later this week or early next week, but Joseph “Joe” Maddalena, Profiles in History’s president and CEO, broke the news to employees in a recent letter.
Maddalena, who founded Profiles in History in 1985, will join Heritage February 1 as Senior Executive Vice President, he said in the letter, calling the move “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” not only for himself but for his employees. While it is likely the Profiles in History name will go away, the operations will remain in Calabasas, California. Employees will be offered jobs with Heritage, Maddalena said in his letter.
Maddalena referred to Heritage founders and owners Steve Ivy and Jim Halperin as “good friends” and “inspiring.”
“Both men are visionaries who understand the importance of popular culture collectibles better than almost anyone in today’s marketplace,” Maddalena said. “Ours will be a true partnership.”
While noting that his business has grown “exponentially” over the years, Maddalena said “moving to Heritage, which was hosting online auctions decades ago, will allow me to serve all of our clients far more efficiently and effectively than ever before. It will also allow Heritage to expand several of its already thriving categories, including historical manuscripts, fine art, comic books and comic art, movie posters and, of course, Hollywood and music memorabilia.”
Heritage offers a strong Entertainment category — most notably movie posters — and has experience handling Hollywood “A” list material, including a private collection of Sylvester Stallone that featured props from Stallone’s Rocky and Rambo movies, among others. But the addition of Maddalena and his team will assuredly increase the quality and quantity of their entertainment offerings.
Profiles in History has been the largest player by far in authenticated Hollywood memorabilia auctions. Highlights over the years have been impressive, including the Marilyn Monroe “Subway” Dress from The Seven Year Itch selling for $5.52 million and the Audrey Hepburn Ascot Dress from My Fair Lady for $4.44 million.
The auction house also handled the “Cowardly Lion” costume from The Wizard of Oz ($805,000); a full-scale model T-800 Endoskeleton from Terminator 2: Judgment Day ($488,750); Marilyn Monroe’s “Diamonds” dress from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes ($356,500); Luke Skywalker’s light saber from Star Wars ($240,000); and Margaret Hamilton’s “Wicked Witch” hat from The Wizard Of Oz ($230,000).
Maddalena has earned a reputation as the nation’s leading authority on entertainment memorabilia and historical documents. He paid $749,000 for a January 8, 1863 handwritten letter of Abraham Lincoln regarding the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation. In 1997, Maddalena was instrumental in exposing the notorious Lex Cusak forgery scandal involving John F. Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe faked letters and was the industry expert interviewed by Peter Jennings about the hoax on 20/20. He also worked in 2009 with the Library of Congress to stage “With Malice Toward None: The Abraham Lincoln Exhibition” attended by President Barrack Obama.
“Everything I’ve done in my life, from collecting baseball cards as a young boy to producing TV shows to building Profiles in History into the world’s largest dealer of Hollywood memorabilia, has been infused with deep felt enthusiasm, excitement and passion,” Maddalena said in his letter. “My move to Heritage Auctions is no different. The time is right, because the people, the place, and the vision are right. I am eager for all of us to continue this journey together for a long, long time.”