Digger: What is your
Helen: I'm the founder of Dig Gallery.
I became Head of Entertainment
Memorabilia at Christie’s, New York in 2005. The biggest
thrill of my career was bringing to auction the Estate of
Marlon Brando in 2005.
I have been
involved in so many exciting celebrity estates and auctions,
including Eric Clapton’s guitars, the estates Of Clark Gable,
Margot Fonteyn and Stan Laurel and The John Lennon Collection
of “Magic” Alex Mardas.
As a Christie’s
auctioneer I was the luckiest person ever to have
brought down the hammer on such gems as Marlon Brando’s script
for “The Godfather” and the drum from the cover of the Beatles
LP “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”.
Can you please tell us more about The Dig Gallery, how it
started and developed into what it is today?
Helen: Well, we are truly
memorabilia and music history geeks, and we really like this
stuff. We launched Dig Gallery to offer affordable and
accessible rock music memorabilia, music and film photographs,
and fashion photography and pop culture artworks for your
You can buy from Dig
safe in the knowledge that we have used our years of
experience to carefully select each and every piece in our
Please tell us more about what is on offer.
Helen: Dig is a retail
photography and memorabilia gallery so you can buy any of the
items you see on our site. We sell a lot of memorabilia and
this is extremely varied. It could be a vintage poster of the
Beatles or a guitar pick from the Ramones.
We represent a lot of
really cool photographers; Eileen Polk, Frank Worth, George
Zimbel, Lawrence Schiller, Lawrence Watson, Mick Rock and
Owning items of memorabilia that you enjoy and relate to is a
great thing to do. In these uncertain times is it also a good
Helen: Film Memorabilia
and Rock Memorabilia are being seen as an excellent investment
by a global, discerning market and as a safe alternative to
stocks and shares.
2011's Profiles In
History auction saw some incredible world record-breaking
prices for Entertainment Memorabilia, the likes of which have
not been seen since the 1990s.
The highlights of the
sale were $805,000 for the car from “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”;
$241,500 for a beautiful and insightful letter sent from Walt
Disney to key Disney animator, Ub Iwerks; $126,500 for a
crystal ball used by the Wicked Witch Of The West in “The
Wizard Of Oz”; and $230,000 for a fragment of the lyrics for
“Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” written by John Lennon and
It has been over 10
years since high prices like this have been achieved for key
pieces of film memorabilia – the last highest price for a prop
or costume from “The Wizard Of Oz” was when a pair of
Dorothy’s ruby slippers sold at Christie’s in 1999 for
$666,000 and since then, prices have been somewhat
disappointing. The results from this auction just goes to
demonstrate what we have suspected has been happening over the
last couple of years – that investors are looking to diversify
their portfolios and Film Memorabilia and Rock Memorabilia are
being seen as an excellent investment by a global, discerning
market and a safe alternative to stocks and shares.
The sale results at
Profiles In History are backed up by another auction at
Juliens in Los Angeles later that year where Marilyn Monroe was the
star of the show, with one of her dresses being sold for
$348,000. This same dress was originally sold at Christie’s
sale of the Marilyn Monroe Estate in 1999, with the dress
selling back then for a mere $23,000. What an investment for
one lucky seller.
Similarly the sale of
the Debbie Reynolds Collection at the end of 2011 was another
testament to the enduring appeal of Hollywood and the
memorabilia that documents its place in 20th century popular
What tend to be the most popular items and what are the holy
grails of collecting for your clients and also for you?
Helen: There truly is no
one single category that sells the best on the website, it
really does come down to individual taste and preference.
This said, in the
realm of music memorabilia without a doubt the most popular
items are generally from the Beatles. This is no surprise
really because they have one of the largest worldwide
audiences ever and made such an impact in the world of music.
You have amassed a great and impressive portfolio. How have
you managed to do this?
Helen: I have been
amassing contacts and memorabilia collections for years. Once
we had decided to launch our own gallery we approached all the
artists that we personally loved. So no huge business plan, we
just trusted our instincts and hoped that what we liked
everyone else would. Fortunately we haven’t been
Can you please tell us about your other services, such as
Helen: Our appraisals
service really came out of demand from some of the larger
memorabilia collectors. Once you have a collection it becomes
important to insure correctly, catalogue correctly and
authenticate in the right way.
We work with private
collectors, auction houses, museums and institutions all over
the world to research, appraise, authenticate and value
memorabilia and collectables. I am a
renowned expert in entertainment memorabilia with 13 years of
experience on both sides of the Atlantic.
Why do you think retro pop culture and nostalgia is generally
so popular with so many people these days?
Helen: I think music and
film memorabilia is many things to people. For some it is the
acquisition of objects that are of high value, for some it is
purely the pursuit of aesthetically pleasing things, but for
the majority it’s much more than that its the pursuit of
memories and the ability to live in the moment that shaped you
and made you smile.
The Beatles are the
best example, they personify an era we all love, a new musical
style we adore, a fashion we aspire to, and a generation we
wish we were part of. To have a piece of their history
validates this, we are reminded every day of the great world
we live in that can produce such a talent that symbolises a
And what are your personal retro passions?
Helen: We really do love
it all. There isn’t a single item or picture on this website
that we wouldn’t have on our walls; this is why we chose
So it changes on a
daily basis but my husband Ben Hall really likes the Lawrence
Watson Hip Hop photos, specifically the Run DMC shots because
they really do capture a moment at the beginning of a cultural
I’m a huge fan of the
Mick Rock and the Eileen Polk photographs and really would
like to purchase for myself the Kate Moss shots, because again
it captures her at the height of her fame and I can picture
what I was doing at the time and it makes me smile!
Who are your ‘typical’ customers, where are your customers
coming from and what customer feedback/comments do you get?
Helen: Our customers
range from someone in looking for a birthday present for his
wife right through to a multi-millionaire looking to expand
their memorabilia collection.
What are the best and most enjoyable aspects of running The
Helen: Well, we love
finding new images and objects that we didn’t know existed.
It’s the best feeling ever when you find something that you
can place in history and know the whole back-story.
What are your plans for The Dig Gallery in the future?
Helen: Our ambitions are
to increase the memorabilia range and also to hold a couple of
ad-hoc gallery events in the coming year in Brighton and