The front cover of the then originally titled 'American' or as it is now known 'Citizen Kane' film, which was Orson Welles working copy of the script held by an employee of Sotheby's auction house in London, Feb. 27, 2014. (Alastair Grant / AP)
London — Orson Welles’ personal draft script for “Citizen Kane” is up for sale — from the collection of an American almost as wealthy as the movie’s monstrous newspaper mogul, though considerably more private.
Sotheby’s auction house said Thursday it is offering the typed script, covered in the director’s amendments and marked “Mr. Welles’ working copy” on the front page.
The script, which has an estimated price of 15,000 pounds to 20,000 pounds ($25,000 to $33,000), is part of a sale of more than a thousand items owned by the late Stanley Seeger, an affluent collector of everything from Old Masters and contemporary art to historical oddities.
Other lots to be offered March 5 and 6 in London include eight 100-million-year-old dinosaur eggs, an armchair once owned by Winston Churchill and gangster Al Capone’s silver-plated cocktail shaker, a gift from his underlings engraved “To a Regular Guy, from the Boys.”
“Citizen Kane,” released in 1941, has frequently been voted one of the best films ever made. It depicts the rise and fall of an ambitious tycoon modeled on the real figure of U.S. publisher William Randolph Hearst.
The script being sold — one of only two known surviving copies belonging to Welles — bears the movie’s earlier title, “American.” It was changed, in part, to distance the fictional Charles Foster Kane from Hearst.
Sotheby’s director David Macdonald, who put together the sale, said Thursday that Seeger often watched the movie, following along with script in hand.
Seeger, who died in 2011 at the age of 81, lived quietly — even reclusively — but on a grand scale. He and his partner Christopher Cone had 11 properties, including the Tudor manor house Sutton Place in southern England, once owned by J. Paul Getty. All were filled with art and artifacts, as was Seeger’s yacht which boasted a Cezanne on its walls.
The sale includes items from 50 countries, from Adm. Horatio Nelson’s silver teapot to a claret jug from the Titanic and dinnerware by graffiti artist Keith Haring.
In his lifetime, Seeger sold major works including 88 Picassos that raised $32 million in 1993. Macdonald said he’d get rid of collections when he considered them complete, or when works became too famous. Once, when a visiting paramedic recognized a Francis Bacon triptych hanging on a wall, Seeger decided it had to go.
Macdonald said Seeger collected for pleasure and for fun — “Having Nelson’s teapot but using it for afternoon tea. If you’re having your friends over for Bloody Marys, you have to use Al Capone’s cocktail shaker.”
Proceeds from the sale will go to the Seeger Center for Hellenic Studies at Princeton University, of which he was benefactor.