$20 Gone With the Wind Dress Sells for $137K

James Tumblin found it on costume company's floor in the 1960s
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 20, 2015 6:39 AM CDT
$20 Gone With the Wind Dress Sells for $137K
This undated photo courtesy of Heritage Auctions and HA.com shows an outfit worn in several scenes of the 1939 film "Gone With the Wind" by Vivien Leigh as she played Scarlett O'Hara.   (Emily Clements/Heritage Auctions, HA.com via AP)

James Tumblin's 300,000-piece collection of Gone With the Wind memorabilia started with a single gray dress with black appliques that lay crumpled on the floor of the Western Costume Company in Los Angeles in the 1960s. "A docent told me not to bother to pick it up, because they were throwing it away," Tumblin, who once ran the hair and makeup department at Universal Studios, told the Telegraph last month. But "I had noticed there was a printed label saying Selznick International Pictures, and 'Scarlett production dress' was written in ink," he said. "I asked if he would sell it to me." He ended up paying just $20 for the costume, worn by Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O'Hara in four scenes of the 1939 film—an incredible bargain considering the dress sold at auction on Saturday for $137,000.

The outfit—really a jacket and skirt ensemble—was actually pale blue during filming. But some of the 150 Gone With the Wind pieces sold by Heritage Auctions this weekend remain in pristine condition, including a gray wool suit Clark Gable wore when he kicked down Scarlett O'Hara's boudoir door as Rhett Butler, CNN reports; it sold for $55,000. A straw hat worn by Leigh fetched $52,500, while a black bonnet donned by Leigh and Olivia de Havilland's character Melanie Wilkes sold for $30,000, Reuters reports. Tumblin seems happy to have been able to offer up his pieces, many of which have toured the country. "I am really looking forward to walking through a museum and seeing something that I once owned," he said. He still maintains the largest private collection of Gone With the Wind memorabilia, which includes Leigh's Oscar. (The film almost didn't make it to the screen.)

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