The Hal Roach Studios closed its doors for good in February 1963, and soon afterward those very doors were auctioned off to the highest bidder. A four-day public auction was held on the studio lot in early August of that year. Following the auction the studios were to be demolished, so everything had to go.
While you might expect such an auction to appeal to curious fans and collectors hoping for rare movie props and file cabinets full of still photos, it’s clear from the auction catalog that professionals from the film industry were the ones being targeted. Items included all types of filmmaking equipment. Obvious items such as cameras, lights, and sound equipment were listed alongside office furniture, and equipment from the machine shop, the special effects department, and the studio cafeteria. Since all of the buildings were to be town down, even the doors, windows, and light fixtures were up for auction. The hand hewed wooden beams from Mr. Roach’s office were highlighted in one photo.
The auctioneers were obviously in a quandary. On the one hand the lot had been operating in Culver City for 44 years–since the silent era. There were a lot of items in the prop department that would appeal to collectors and antique dealers. But the real money was in the filmmaking equipment, and antiques in that field had no real value. While there was some hint of nostalgia for the old studio, the auction catalog attempted to emphasize that it was a modern, working facility prior to its closure. There was no mention of the studio’s resident stars from days-gone-by.