A cape said to have been worn by Bela Lugosi in an unidentified film has been pulled from eBay less than two days before the auction was due to end. The cape was purchased as part of a lot of old costumes at a Hollywood yard sale a year ago. The vendor said that a United Costumers, Inc. label bearing the faded name of Bela Lugosi was found sewn into it the seams of the “dusty old cape.”
The cape, suffering from the effects of years of warehouse storage, was in need of preservation to prevent further deterioration. The lining was described as “badly worn, stained and distressed” and “coming away from the bottom seams.” The dark velvet collar was faded and splitting at the seams, while the heavy black woollen material of the cape was “heavily stained and faded with various little tears and holes.”
Despite the capes poor condition, bids quickly passed $5,000. The day before it was pulled from the auction, the vendors said that they were considering “many considerable offers” for the cape, leading to speculation that it was sold outside of the auction.
Although the cape caused considerable excitement amongst Lugosi fans, some commentators voiced doubts about its authenticity. The label, which in the absence of any documentary evidence is the only thing that linked the cape to Lugosi, came under particular scrutiny. Several people expressed the opinion that it looked like it had been removed from another costume, possibly a shirt. One commenter on this site said that capes are not usually labeled in the way that this one was as the label may become visible on camera. The length of the cape, exactly four feet from collar to hem, was also deemed to short for Lugosi’s 6 foot 1 inch frame.
The vendor said they would make available all of the information they had regarding the cape, including the original bill of sale for the lot from the wardrobe company and evidence of investigation work into the cape’s history performed on their behalf by a Los Angeles auctioneer, to anyone contesting their information. The auctioneer concluded that it was not a “Dracula” cape, but had “possibly” been worn by Lugosi in either White Zombie (1932)or Spooks Run Wild (1941). The sceptics countered by saying not only did the cape not resemble either of the ones Lugosi wore in those films, it bore no resemblance to any worn by him in any film.