Two of the original stop-motion puppet figures from the 1964 television film Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer sold at auction on Friday for $287,500. The pre-auction estimate had been $150,000-$250,000. With the auction house's commission, final price was $368,000.
The figurines were created by Japanese puppet-maker Ichiro Komuro for the perennially beloved stop-motion animation movie. It's not clear what happened to the figures after the production ended, but in the mid-1970s, they ended up in the possession of Barbara Adams, a longtime secretary at the production company that made the film. She used them as decorations around the Christmas tree, and let her nieces and nephews play with them.
Most of the figures ended up melting in a hot attic, but her nephew brought the survivors, Santa and Rudolph, to the PBS series Antiques Roadshow in 2006, where they were valued at $8,000 to $10,000.
The two figures were later purchased by toy collector Kevin Kreiss, who says he paid "more than the estimate" for the items. He then spent $4,000 to have the figures professionally restored.
Prior to the auction a Christmas-oriented museum called "Castle Noel" launched a GoFundMe page in an effort to purchase the figurines, but was only able to raise $18,500 of the campaign's target amount of $250,000. Which, as it turns out, still wouldn't have been enough to win the auction.