This March, Sotheby’s Original Film Posters sale will offer a remarkable collection of signed posters – the painstaking efforts of one avid collector over four decades. From leading Hollywood actors to ground-breaking directors, this star-studded line-up includes some of the most famous names in film, with many posters featuring multiple signatures. Totalling nearly 150 posters, the collection will be offered in an online-only sale from 17-24 March with a combined estimate of £107,000-165,000.
This selection of posters is just a glimpse into the collection of Surgit Sohal, who has dedicated the past four decades to seeking out film stars to put their signatures to the 300-400 posters he has collected. Outside his 9 to 5, Sohal’s weekends and evenings have been filled with determining where actors and directors would be making appearances, and bracing himself for the long wait. The day of a premiere would mean securing a position at 6 or 7 o’clock in the morning and standing at the front of the barriers for 10 to 15 hours in the rain or even snow.
Sohal caught the collecting bug in the early 80s, after seeing ‘Rambo’ as a teenager at his local cinema in Woolwich. Thrilled by the cinematic magic of what he had just seen, Sohal went out to buy the original poster so that he could have a piece of the film for himself, purchasing the British quad poster for £4 from a specialist cinema and movie memorabilia shop. Not satisfied with just having the poster, Sohal set out to get one step closer to the film – by seeking out all the stars sign his original poster.
After 40 years of collecting, Sohal has now decided to sell the collection in order to support his family: “As much as I love the collection, I’ve now decided to sell it at auction to put my daughter through university, and hopefully give her the deposit for a house.
Although I will be extremely sad to see the collection go, I have encountered nearly all my heroes along the way - however, it was not always easy! Like us all, film stars are fickle, and getting a signature very much depended on which side of the bed they’d woken up on – and there were a lot of days where it was the wrong side. Of course, standing for hours on end in five layers and coming out with nothing was truly disheartening – but nothing could take away from the feeling of when you did get that pen to paper!
Whilst some days were forgettable, I have many fond memories of meeting the stars and being able to see a more human side off the big screen. From the kindness and gratitude of Roger Moore – who would ask everyone to form an orderly queue, so then he could sign for all – to the wit of Tony Curtis. I once met Curtis at a book signing, and after shouting at the top of my voice “I am Spartacus!”, the star looked me up and down, and responded “Oh no you ain’t!” – much to the amusement of everyone in the queue.
As stars are becoming more reluctant to sign, the collection is a true tribute to a bygone era, and a nostalgic reminder of the spark cinema once had.”
With estimates ranging from £200 to £6,000, this sale offers both new and seasoned collectors the opportunity to acquire pieces signed by some of the most important names in film, including the likes of Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE COLLECTION
Considered by many as Martin Scorsese’s magnum opus and one of the greatest films ever made, this biographical film was based on the turbulent tale of boxer, Jake LaMotta.
Over a number of years, Sohal collected the signatures of Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese, Paul Schrader, Thelma Schoonmaker and even Jake La Motta. Sohal recalls his encounters with some of these stars: “When I met La Motta, he praised Robert De Niro’s performance, saying that he could have turned pro as he was a “fighting machine”. De Niro – who is notoriously hard to get to sign - said to me “kid, it must have taken you a long time to get everyone on this poster", and when I showed him Jake La Motta’s signature, he said “may god rest his soul”. Scorsese – another tricky one to get a signature from – also shared his fond memories of La Motta, saying that he hardly ever signs anything with the boxer’s signature.”
Another cult classic from Martin Scorsese, this poster also features the signatures of the director, screenwriter and leading actors.
This piece is testament to the collector’s dedication, as Scorsese, De Niro and Keitel’s signatures were obtained over 40 years after the release of the film, at the premiere of ‘The Irishman’ (2019).
Playing a gritty London gangster, ‘Get Carter’ is undoubtedly one of Michael Caine's most famous roles. This 1970s masterpiece by Italian artist Arnaldo Putzu has become one of the most sought-after Michael Caine posters.
Sohal met the British actor at the premiere of ‘The Dark Knight’ in 2008, where Caine saw the poster from a distance and insisted that he had to sign it.
A landmark of British film and culture, Franc Roddam's feature film directional debut and ode to 1960s Mod life launched the careers of some of the most recognisable names in British film and television.
This piece has been signed by Roddam and all but one of the cast members above their image, including Ray Winstone, Phil Daniels, Leslie Ash and Toyah Willcox.
Martin Sheen signed this poster whilst at a special convention in London, commenting that he had never seen this poster before, which is unique to other posters for this film by featuring menacing helicopters rather than Marlon Brando. Sheen has signed the poster with the words ‘Meet Me in Saigon’, as a reference to the film’s setting.
‘Mean Streets’ marked the first collaboration between Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro - a successful union that saw them work on a further seven films together. This poster has been signed by both Scorsese and De Niro, as well as the film’s other leading actor, Harvey Keitel.
London | Robyn Ashley | Robyn.Ashley@Sothebys.com | +44 (0)20 7293 6000
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*Estimates do not include buyer’s premium. Prices achieved include the hammer price plus buyer’s premium and are net of any fees paid to the purchaser where the purchaser provided an irrevocable bid.
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