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Lost Back to the Future Movie Poster Goes Up for Auction

In addition to being one of the highest grossing films of the 1980s, Back to the Future’s movie poster is one of the decade’s most recognizable pieces of pop culture memorabilia. Drew Struzan’s image of Marty McFly looking at his wristwatch as he climbs out of his DeLorean time machine has reached iconic status, but it’s not the only poster that was considered.

Before Universal Pictures decided on using Struzan’s work, a number of other potential posters were reviewed, and rejected. Now a never-before-seen Back to the Future poster contender that was recently discovered will go up for auction.

The unused poster was discovered at Lonsdale Advertising in England, when a former employee was digging through the agency’s old archive and collection. The movie one-sheet features a black-and-white George McFly (Crispin Glover) and Lorraine Baines (Lea Thompson) looking rather surprised as their future son falls into the image in full color. The iconic DeLorean is featured in the poster, too—though it’s hidden in the background. It also features a tagline that wasn’t used for the final film: “Marty’s Parents Were Destined To Meet in 1955. Until Marty Dropped in From The Future.”

The never-before-seen movie poster will go up on the auction block next month at Ewbank's. It’s estimated to sell for between £200 and £400 (about $300 to $600).

[h/t /Film]

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By Ben Wittick (1845–1903) - Brian Lebel's Old West Show and Auction, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
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Photo of Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett, Purchased for $10, Could Be Worth Millions
By Ben Wittick (1845–1903) - Brian Lebel's Old West Show and Auction, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
By Ben Wittick (1845–1903) - Brian Lebel's Old West Show and Auction, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Several years ago, Randy Guijarro paid $2 for a few old photographs he found in an antiques shop in Fresno, California. In 2015, it was determined that one of those photos—said to be the second verified picture ever found of Billy the Kid—could fetch the lucky thrifter as much as $5 million. That story now sounds familiar to Frank Abrams, a lawyer from North Carolina who purchased his own photo of the legendary outlaw at a flea market in 2011. It turns out that the tintype, which he paid $10 for, is thought to be an image of Billy and Pat Garrett (the sheriff who would eventually kill him) taken in 1880. Like Guijarro’s find, experts say Abrams’s photo could be worth millions.

The discovery is as much a surprise to Abrams as anyone. As The New York Times reports, what drew Abrams to the photo was the fact that it was a tintype, a metal photographic image that was popular in the Wild West. Abrams didn’t recognize any of the men in the image, but he liked it and hung it on a wall in his home, which is where it was when an Airbnb guest joked that it might be a photo of Jesse James. He wasn’t too far off.

Using Google as his main research tool, Abrams attempted to find out if there was any famous face in that photo, and quickly realized that it was Pat Garrett. According to The New York Times:

Then, Mr. Abrams began to wonder about the man in the back with the prominent Adam’s apple. He eventually showed the tintype to Robert Stahl, a retired professor at Arizona State University and an expert on Billy the Kid.

Mr. Stahl encouraged Mr. Abrams to show the image to experts.

William Dunniway, a tintype expert, said the photograph was almost certainly taken between 1875 and 1880. “Everything matches: the plate, the clothing, the firearm,” he said in a phone interview. Mr. Dunniway worked with a forensics expert, Kent Gibson, to conclude that Billy the Kid and Mr. Garrett were indeed pictured.

Abrams, who is a criminal defense lawyer, described the process of investigating the history of the photo as akin to “taking on the biggest case you could ever imagine.” And while he’s thrilled that his epic flea market find could produce a major monetary windfall, don’t expect to see the image hitting the auction block any time soon. 

"Other people, they want to speculate from here to kingdom come,” Abrams told The New York Times of how much the photo, which he has not yet had valuated, might be worth. “I don’t know what it’s worth. I love history. It’s a privilege to have something like this.”

[h/t: The New York Times]

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