Business & Economy

Hollywood prop house to auction off wares and call it a wrap

Harvey Schwartz founded 20th Century Props 4 decades ago
Harvey Schwartz founded 20th Century Props 4 decades ago
Brian Watt/KPCC

20th Century Props starts auctioning off pieces of Hollywood history Tuesday. The North Hollywood prop house is shutting down after four decades of supplying set pieces for films and television shows.

Founder and CEO owner Harvey Schwartz will auction off more than 90,000 items from his inventory. Schwartz says he has the finest lighting department on the planet, including chandeliers from Planet of the Apes and The Aviator.

Harvey Schwartz: "I’m the only one left in the industry that has the oil lamps and the gas lamps, besides the electric lamps. So when I’m gone, this industry is going to be hard pressed. There isn’t anybody larger than I that could buy me like me as a piece, although I’m always hoping that somebody would walk in at the last minute and save me! But no one has, so it’s all going up for auction."

Jaime Rubio started at 20th Century Props 15 years ago as a maintenance worker, and moved up to become a warehouse supervisor.

Jaime Rubio: "It’s kind of sad, you know, especially when I built almost every single rack here to load it with stuff. I put it together. All the racks, all the shelves to put the merchandise. Everything, pretty much. Fifteen years, you know, you get to do a lot. It’s kind of sad to see that everything is going to go down and disappear. It’s not easy, you know, but, it’s nothing we can do."

Schwartz says he’s enjoyed the journey from Melrose Avenue antique seller to owner of the largest prop house under one roof.

Schwartz: "I kind of like being able to buy and sell to the movies and TV shows, and be able to go to a movie, not only watch a great movie but to see all my things in the movie decorating it. It’s been quite a fun business."

Schwartz says he tried to stay in business as long as he could. But the tough economy and the threat of an actors strike made it tough to make payroll.