Auction of rare Audrey Hepburn stamp

MUMBAI: A collector make a tidy profit after discovering a rare stamp portraying movie star Audrey Hepburn smoking – one of a series that should have been incinerated by the German government.

In 2001, 14 million Audrey Hepburn stamps were printed as part of a series featuring movie stars including Charlie Chaplin, Marilyn Monroe and Greta Garbo. But the print run was destroyed after Hepburn’s son, Sean Ferrer, objected to the cigarette holder dangling from the actress’ mouth and refused to grant copyright.

But the Finance Ministry had already delivered advance copies of the Hepburn stamps to Deutsche Post for approval. Thirty of these proof copies pocketed by an employee who used  them to send letters postmarked from Berlin.

The latest find is the fifth Hepburn stamp to surface since 2004. Schlegel said the rest probably ended up where most stamps do: in the trash can.

One of the four other Hepburn stamps fetched $53,000 at an auction in Duesseldorf in 2005.

A minimum bid of $41,959 has been set for the stamp — of which only five copies are known to exist.

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