In June a modern German rarity that was not supposed to exist was auctioned by the firm Christoph Gaertner in Berlin. Incredibly, the stamp was sold for 150,060 euros! Only four single examples are known to exist.
The 5-stamp set shown top featuring film stars Charlie Chaplin, Greta Garbo, Marilyn Monroe and Jean Gabin was issued the German Bundespost in 2001. But the set originally printed included a stamp with a publicity shot of Audrey Hepburn, taken to advertise the 1961 film Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
The German Postal Service printed 14 million of the stamps in 2001 depicting the actress, who had died in 1993, as Holly Golightly in the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s. They show Hepburn with a long, black cigarette holder hanging from her lips.
But Sean Ferrer, her son, refused to grant copyright, saying the image had been altered, and all but a few sheets were destroyed. It was only after production that Mr Ferrer was contacted for copyright permission. Ferrer had said that in the original photo, Hepburn had sunglasses hanging from her mouth, but they had flipped the negative and replaced the glasses with the cigarette holder.
He suggested either the original photo or an alternative, but the postal service ordered the stamps to be destroyed.
Two sheets were spared, one for the Postal Service Archives and one for the German Post Museum. However, Mr Ferrer already had a sheet the government had sent him for approval in 2001. In 2010 Sean Ferrer agreed to sell the sheet in his possession for charity. The stamps fetched 430,000 euros at the auction in Berlin.