By MICHAEL CIEPLY
Published in The New York Times
September 20, 2013
If your idea of living the dream involves banging around the desert in a Pontiac Aztek that has seen better days, the dream just got closer.
Screenbid.com, a new auction site focused on the sale of movie and television props, is set to go live on Friday with a preview of its first offerings: about 250 items from AMC’s “Breaking Bad” television series, including a dull green Aztek that was used, and abused, by the show’s meth-dealing antihero, Walter White.
“We have Walt’s Aztek and the Monte Carlo,” along with other paraphernalia, said Bill Block, a film producer who is joining the entrepreneur Jeffrey A. Dash in founding Screenbid.
The site, they said, is intended to help studios dispose of props systematically, and profitably — props that might otherwise be locked in storage, or offered more haphazardly on eBay or Craigslist, sometimes by individuals who simply walked them off a set.
The “Breaking Bad” auction, they said, was organized in collaboration with Sony Pictures Entertainment, whose television unit helped produce the show.
According to Mr. Block and Mr. Dash, who spoke by telephone earlier this week, the auction will actually begin on Sept. 29, when the last episode of the series is shown. (Some items will not be listed until then, to protect plot points.) Sony, they said, has set an undisclosed reserve price on items, which will be withheld if the price is not met.
The price of Hollywood collectibles is notoriously elastic — who’d have figured on the $5,000 bid for 12 cans of beer at the “Lost” auction, run by Profiles in History? But Mr. Block reckoned that the “Breaking Bad” props could yield more than $2 million.
Sony Pictures, the new site’s founders said, is already in line with a second auction, which will sell memorabilia from its film “This Is the End,” including furnishings from the movie’s version of James Franco’s home. Props and other items on Screenbid, they added, are authenticated by the studio or producers and artists involved with the sale.
The “Breaking Bad” sale already lists Hazmat suits, a charred pink Teddy bear, a Lucite-encased grill and various automobiles familiar to viewers of the series, about White, a high school chemistry teacher who becomes a kingpin in New Mexico’s methamphetamine trade.
But Sony is not selling White’s mobile meth lab, a Fleetwood Bounder RV, said Mr. Block. “They’re keeping it for their on-the-lot tour,” he explained.