If this North Hollywood story had a “Hollywood ending,” some big, angelic investor would swoop in at the last minute, save Harvey Schwartz’s prop business and allow him to hire all of his old employees back.
But that doesn’t seem likely, so Schwartz will be forced to sell thousands of one-of-a-kind items from his 20th Century Props store next month to pay off a mountain of debt.
“I’m having this auction to sell off all the products that I’ve collected over the past decade -- 40 years all together,” said Schwartz.
Any movie buff would feel like a kid in a candy store at Schwartz’s 120,000 square foot warehouse.
“I’ve had a lot of products used in 'Batman.' (In) 'Titanic,' I made the chandeliers ... lot of the rooms and hallways -- which we have in boxes -- will come out for the big sale,” he said.
He’s also got Dr. Evil’s escape pod from “Austin Powers,” furniture from “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” helicopters from "Independence Day," and a desk actually owned by Howard Hughes, which was then used in the movie “The Aviator,” along with thousands of other pieces.
Schwartz said he’s been in the red for more than a year, and has lost about $2 million.
“The reason the business has been so bad for the past year is the runaway production to other states, plus the possible (Screen Actors Guild) strike," he said. "I had 28 employees last year. I’m down to six. A lot of them are still out of work."
“It’s been the worst year in Hollywood history for all the companies that have been supportive of the movie industry," Schwartz said.
The props will go on the auction block in late July.