Description

    Bela Lugosi Painting by Richard Sheffield. Bela Lugosi, Hollywood's immortal Count Dracula, seems to inhabit this portrait, body and soul -- and maybe he does! The back story: In 1953, Los Angeles teenager F. Richard Sheffield, Jr, fascinated by the Lugosi persona, met his idol one Saturday at the fading star's modest apartment. Although Lugosi was failing, Sheffield sensed the power of the old magic (as well as the man's genuine charm and kindness) and fell under his formidable spell. He became the star's devoted acolyte for the last three years of Lugosi's life, and throughout the actor's final real-life melodramas -- including his drug addiction, alcoholism, and final (and stormy) marriage. (He even watched Bela acting his never-finished role in his posthumously released Plan 9 from Outer Space.) Sheffield asked Lugosi if he could paint his portrait, and after the star proved a restless subject, the teenager opted to use one of Bela's favorite photos. It was a strikingly devilish portrait from 1930, when Bela was campaigning to star in Universal's film of Dracula after his triumph in the vampire role on Broadway. Sheffield nailed the details -- the blue eyes, even the mole on the left cheek -- and the background is properly fiery, as if we're beholding Dracula in hell. The canvas is 23" x 29," and signed "F. Sheffield '53" in the lower right corner. Bela, as Sheffield recalls, was "flattered and impressed that a 14-year-old kid did a decent job" and displayed the painting in his Hollywood apartment. A baroque bonus is the magnificent wooden, ornately-designed frame, a splendidly gothic show in itself, worthy of a Transylvania castle, measuring a huge 45" x 48.5," painted gold and featuring, appropriately, four carved bats. The painting has some minor age blemishes, and the paint has faded in a few areas of the frame, otherwise it is in overall Very Fine condition. Richard Sheffield was the last person to see Bela Lugosi alive (mere hours before his death on August 16, 1956). He was a pallbearer at the funeral, has done much to perpetuate the Lugosi legacy, and most recently joined Gary Don Rhodes in co-authoring the fascinating new book Bela Lugosi: Dreams and Nightmares. This portrait appears in the book. Sheffield's unusually deep bond with Bela Lugosi radiates and resonates in this wonderful painting, almost 52 years after Bela Lugosi went to his real-life grave (dressed in his Dracula cape).



    Fees, Shipping, and Handling Description: Framed - without Glass, Large (view shipping information)

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    Auction Dates
    October, 2008
    4th-6th Saturday-Monday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 5
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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