The following nugget of wisdom was drilled into us the minute we signed our first mortgage: Take care of your house because, someday, it'll take care of you. Weeeelllllll, maybe. If you live in Connecticut. Or Monaco. Here in Phoenix, homeowners are shackled to the fickle fortunes of a Wild West, boom-and-bust economy. Yee-haw.
This nugget of wisdom was drilled into us pretty much the day after we dumped all our money into a house: Diversify. Don't be a boob and hold on to those two remaining shekels like grim death. Rub 'em together in the hopes they'll go forth and multiply.
A surprising number of the smart shekels these days are going into . . . movie posters? Yep, the burgeoning collectibles sub-genres known as ephemera and Hollywood have come together with a boom in recent years, escalating the Golden Age poster market to ludicrous heights. Crazy, perhaps, but when you think about it, posters exude a lot of natural charm as collectibles: 1) many are rare, because they were considered expendable (a.k.a. ephemeral) in their day; 2) the most coveted — Casablanca, The Mummy, etc. — contain archetypal pop-culture images that transcend eras and styles; 3) many people practice "theme living" these days, and a collectible poster or two can really spiff up that home-theater room; 4) it's Hollywood, baby; everything sells.
Mark, Sherry, and Brandy Goldberg of Femmes Fatales are collectors and resellers of the vintage beauties, which they display in a remodeled 3,000-square-foot building on Scottsdale's Main Street drag. (Much of the funding for the swank spot comes by way of Mark, a founding partner at the personal-injury law firm Goldberg & Osborne, a.k.a. "The Eagle." See how Mark diversified, students?)
About 200 of the clan's 1,500-poster collection — spanning the 1920s to the present — are on view at any given time. Prices vary, but the tags usually start at $200-ish and can run to five figures. Ouch, right? Well, that's not so out of whack with what the "real" art in downtown Scottsdale brings, and it's not even close to the six figures the rarest of the rare posters net. (The record, as of this writing, is $690,000 for a 1927 Metropolis.)
For their part, the Goldbergs play mostly to the "theme" crowd. Therefore, they stock common works powered by high-watt superstars like Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable, Elizabeth Taylor, Errol Flynn, Brigitte Bardot, and Robert Redford. They can also hook you up with top-notch restorers and framers, and will even use their connections to help you find that highly elusive poster you didn't know you couldn't live without.