by Zach Johnson | Thu., Apr. 12, 2018 5:05 AM
Neil Patrick Harris outed himself as a big spender Wednesday night.
In 2016, Van Eaton Galleries' "Souvenirs of Disneyland" auction raked in $1.2 million—$172,500 of which came from Harris, who bid on an original stretching portrait from the park's Haunted Mansion attraction. The actor appeared on The Late Late Show, where he admitted to being a major memorabilia collector. "I love stuff from the Haunted Mansion. The Haunted Mansion in Disney is, like, my favorite thing ever," said Harris, who was on the show to promote Season 2 of A Series of Unfortunate Events. "It just fits into my Scooby-Doo/Murder Mystery wheelhouse. And so I try and acquire as many things that are from the actual Haunted Mansion as possible."
"There was an auction in L.A. a couple years ago, and I bid on—and won—one of those Haunted Mansion stretching portraits. You know in the first room when you go in and they say, 'Is this haunted room actually stretching or is it your imagination?' I got one of the original stretching portraits. It's a bearded guy and he's in boxer shorts and he's standing on a TNT barrel!" he said. "I just wanted to get it and I spent way too much money on it, because I was just bidding on an app. I won't say how much, but it was way too much." (Unbeknownst to Harris, The Chicago Tribune reported on the auction in 2016, so...his secret is out.) "My friend Chris Hardwick—he's amazing!—texted me the next day and said, 'Dude, you got the Haunted Mansion stretching portrait? That's amazing. I was bidding against you.' I said, 'Really? You were?' He said, 'Yeah, but I stopped because it was getting crazy expensive.' It turns out I was bidding against one of the wealthiest people in the world—and I still wanted it bad enough that I ended up getting it."
Harris declined to name the other bidder, but he implied it was Amazon's Jeff Bezos. "I don't want to say his name," he explained, "because I still want free two-day Prime shipping when boxes come to my house." Moreover, he insisted, "I don't want to get in a fight with anybody!"
Coincidentally, Hardwick got his own stretching portrait and posted about it on Instagram earlier in the day. "To say this was a bucket list item is an understatement. If you know what this is, the answer is yes, it's real. Disneyland's Haunted Mansion opened in 1969 and for the first few years, the paintings in the first 'is this haunted room actually STRETCHING' room were hand painted. After a while, though, they realized that the roller marks from the stretching gag were doing considerable damage to the paintings so in 1972 they started screen printing them instead. A handful of these original painted ones pop up at auction now and then and they always get snatched up quickly for unhealthy amounts of money. Fortunately a dealer I get a lot of Disney stuff from got his hands on one and I was able to get it. It is in PRISTINE condition. I'm going to frame it with UV coated museum quality non-reflective glass, because now I need to protect it!!! Even though it looks like I'm leaning on the painting, I'm holding my shoulders off our floor and I have nitrile gloves on behind my head. I just wanted to give you an idea of the size of it, so in this case I'm a human banana for scale. I love this piece so damn much," he said. "The Jack Skellington pj pants were a happy bonus. Yes, I wear them to bed almost every night."
Hardwick also spoke about his stretching portrait on Jimmy Kimmel Live! Wednesday. "My wife and I love Disney stuff, and this is one of the original Disney Haunted Mansion paintings—like hand-painted!" Hardwick joked he "knows a guy" who hooked him up. "There's a guy who goes in the back alley and opens his coat." He insisted it wasn't stolen from the park in Anaheim, Calif., promising Jimmy Kimmel, "They weren't going to use it for anything, so I had to have it!"
Finding the stretching portrait was like finding the "holy grail," Hardwick added.
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