Back in December, we had the honor of handling one of cinema’s greatest artifact: Bela Lugosi’s original screen-worn cape from Dracula (1931). It was brought to us by none other than his son, Bela, Jr. Prior to seeing this legendary cape, we all believed, as did most movie buffs and horror collectors, that the cape was buried with Bela, Sr.
Bela, Jr. settled this for us once and for all. According to Junior (and used in the catalog description):
Prior to his death in 1956, Bela Lugosi gave the cape to his wife of 20 years, Lillian Lugosi, and the mother of Bela Jr., telling her that it was the cape from the 1931 film version of Dracula. He instructed Lillian to keep the cape for Bela Jr. Upon Lugosi’s death in 1956, the family decided that he should be buried in his Dracula costume. Given Bela Lugosi’s wish that his son should have the cape used in the 1931 film, the family dressed the body in a lighter weight version of the cape he used when making personal appearances. Lillian retained the original 1931 cape and left it, along with her other possessions, to Bela Jr. upon her death in 1981. It has remained in his possession continuously since.
Unfortunately, the cape did not sell at auction. The original starting bid was $1.5M, but was lowered to $1.2M immediately before the auction began. That still was not enough to get a bid. Too bad, as it’s a fantastic piece of history.
Today, I returned the cape to the Lugosi family. If anyone has met Bela, Jr., you’d instantly see the father. He is the spitting image. It’s uncanny and slightly and amusingly spooky.