$3 million sale raises furry auction topic. Now that’s an expensive fursuit!
by Patch O'Furr
Wearing big rugs for animal role-playing takes a lot of devotion and money.
For each fursuit in the photo, allow a generous but in-the-ballpark worth of $2,320.51. It makes the whole crowd worth exactly what someone paid for The Cowardly Lion costume from the 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz, worn by Burt Lahr. On 11/25/14, the original Cowardly Lion sold for $3,077,000.
The Lion may be one of the most iconic anthropomorphic costumes of any movie. “It was created from real lion hide,” said Bonham’s spokeswoman Vyoma Venkataraman. It’s last owner, James Comisar of the Museum of TV, is a “renowned art market specialist” who sold it to raise funding for preservation of TV memorabilia.
Comisar is selling the furry outfit — acquired in 1991 from a salvage dealer who found it covered in dirt and mouse droppings in an abandoned MGM building — to fund a TV history museum in Phoenix.
After acquiring the costume, Comisar engaged professional conservators from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to save the Lion, a process that took almost two years.
A total of $9.1 million in sales were made at the “TCM Presents… There’s No Place Like Hollywood” auction, organized by Turner Classic Movies and Bonham’s Auctions in New York City. The Lion reached near top prices ever for any movie or TV memorabilia. The highest were for a 1960’s Batmobile, and James Bond’s Aston Martin, at $4.6 million each.
What are the highest fursuit prices in fandom?
On 10/11/14, a “Justin Beiber Corgi” sold for $8,025. I gave it a top headline (and joked that the buyer could have bought a complete boy band for the price.) It ended a furious war of 73 bids between the auction winner, and a hopeful young female fursuit maker in Australia. On social media, it was rumored to sell to a teenage girl using dad’s credit card for a gift. Whatever her story, it’s a happy success for the maker. She confirmed on December 14: “The transaction has been complete and the new owner has the costume.”
I asked the maker to comment. She responds:
“All I can really say is that I am very honoured to have my artwork valued at such a staggering price. The girl and her family have been absolute gems to work with, they were so kind and so patient and I really owe them my gratitude. What I appreciate the most is the fact that I can rest easy in the reassurance that my artwork is in the hands of someone who will take care of it, and use it to its full potential. Though the price it went for has been quite a shock that has yet to wear off, at the end of the day whether the costume had gone for $1,000 or 1 million, doesn’t make a difference to me. All I care is that my artwork go to someone who will take care of it, and that wish has been met by the new owner.”
Yahoo Answers offers an unverified hint of where prices may top out:
The most expensive fursuit I’ve ever heard of in the furry fandom was either $15,000 or $17,000 (I’ve heard both numbers quoted at two different times by the fursuit owner).
I asked Furbuy:
Can you help me list some of the most notable auctions that have gone thru Furbuy?
I’ve heard reports of sales as high as $15000 in the fandom, but don’t know where to verify.
Can you share any results or stories?
After researching our sales database, Lavender Corgi is the highest confirmed fursuit sale we’ve had on FurBuy to date. We fairly routinely have fursuits that sell in the $3,000 to $6,000 range now, though – about once every month or so. I’m not sure where you could confirm higher sales than that within fandom. From all indications we have right now, FurBuy is the number one place to find and buy fursuits outside of the fursuit_sales LiveJournal community (where most of our fursuit traffic comes from).
Around a year ago, I noticed high prices with a $5000 Furbuy sale of an exceptionally expressive polar bear by Java Costumes/Wild Life. (Good photos here.) On 12/15/14, their Wolf reached 5169.00. They are consistently getting excited bidding. It seems like they have a winning strategy to support creation of original designs, without offering commissions to demanding buyers. The market sets the price after they make what they want. I think this is great for artists.
Are there any more notable fursuit prices? Can anybody shed more light on this fuzzy topic? Are prices and demand like this a sign of much more to come?
Remember, these are direct artist to buyer sales. Furbuy’s donor-supported platform generously makes it possible without taking an extra cut. Honestly, with the work these take – I think mere thousands is a bargain. I very much doubt that makers earn a lot of money. A top sale of $8,025 is relatively tiny compared to $3 million for a top art market artifact. One day, perhaps fursuit craft could enter a higher market – but until then, this is art to wear and use, and it’s all about fan love. I think this relationship between suiters and makers is why furries are cool. Tip your makers!
Similar costuming craft is seen in sports mascots, and Pantomime Theater “panto-animals” (I have an article about this in the works). But the devotion by Furry fans reaches a level not seen outside of itself. It’s a burgeoning fan-led art form above anything the commercial market offers. It’s a reason I often say that Fursuiting is the most original product of this fandom.
WHAAAT-?! Our Moscow hockey team has a proper /fursuit/ as their mascot? Haha, who's the maker? And guesses? :B pic.twitter.com/tYvrWXhilv— 'Tor-'Tor Cruise 🏝 (@atorwulfu) October 1, 2013
“Top fursuit auctions” are an indicator of what’s going on. Despite occasional fan grousing about over-focus on fursuiters as THE face of furry – I think there’s undeniable reasons for that. The culture of fursuiting reveals a lot about this small but highly-loved hobby.
I often say that fursuiter presence at events is a measure of their success. Consider the discretionary income and devotion the hobby takes. (Besides cost, it takes patience to create a DTD, sit through a queue for years, then cart the thing around in a giant trunk to events around the country.) Their role could be considered similar to early adopters or “lighthouse customers.”
Look out for another article soon about “Furry Top 40” videos. (Most of all, fursuit dance videos that invite a lot of new people in). It’s another indicator of a thriving, growing subculture.