The straitjacket -- which Houdini used for several of his outdoor suspended escapes -- was given to Paul J. Campbell, a salesman for Fleetwood Coffee, by Houdini's brother, Theo. Hardeen, in late 1927 or early 1928. It remained in the Campbell family and was unknown to the Houdini world until last May when it appeared on Pawn Stars. There it was authenticated by magician Murray SawChuck using a photo of Houdini (below) from which he was able to match specific stitching on the jacket.
Pawn Stars star Rick Harrison made an offer of $25,000, but the owner refused and instead listed it on eBay with a starting price of $149,000. There it cycled twice without selling. The jacket was then entered into Christie's Pop Culture: Film & Entertainment Memorabilia auction in London, where it ended its journey today.
One question that remains for me is why Hardeen would give this important Houdini artifact to Campbell, who doesn't appear to have been a magician or even a magic buff. The seller of the jacket says he played with it as a kid, not understanding the value or significance. Maybe in 1928 Hardeen didn't realize the value of his brother's props just yet and was simply looking to get rid of a straitjacket that didn't fit him? Or is it possible that Dash, who was known to be a gambler, gave Campbell this as payment for a gambling debt? If so, it paid off today!
The auction also featured several other Houdini items, including a green sack, also given to Campbell by Hardeen. The auction simply described it as being "used by Harry Houdini for escapology tricks", but I'm wondering if this could have been one of the sacks Houdini used during Metamorphosis? If so, its final auction sale price of $1,958 was a steal!
Congrats to the buyer of this major Houdini artifact.
Sid Radner had told me at one point the story you are now detailingReplyDelete
that Theo Hardeen had a Cronic gambling problem . i believe at one point in time Hardeen had promised him the Jacket .
...Some where in all of this Radner & Hardeen had a brief "falling out and Hardeen gave/Sold the jacket to Campbell .
Radner attempted to locate p.J. Cambell unsuccessfuly...in attempts to trade cuffs or other Houdini menmoriablea in exchange for the jacket.
.Im not sure what ever happened after this .
Really? That's interesting. The seller says Campbell got the jacket from Dash in 27/28. I don't think Sid came to know Dash until the 1940s. But it could be that Sid knew Dash had given away the jacket early on and tried to find Campbell. Or maybe Campbell didn't get it until later. Interesting to know Sid coveted this jacket.ReplyDelete
BTW, the seller says his father got the jacket, the sack, AND a pair of Houdini handcuffs that are now lost.
I am pretty sure the lost Houdini handcuffs are in my collection.ReplyDelete
I met Radner in the 80s when he had mentioned this to me ,memories fade in time but this must have been a sore spot for him to bring it up...ReplyDelete
Still from his stories about Houdini & Hardeen it was very obvious he was an admirer of both men.
I love harry . For Halloween I was him as a tribute to hos death. If I could touch his jacket it would fill me with joy I talk to him every night I love himReplyDelete
As a young man, I idolized HH, then one Halloween night, my appendix burst. I was sure that I was going to die...ReplyDelete
Hi John, Any idea who bought the jacket?ReplyDelete
That I don't know. Sorry.Delete
Hey, I know that jacket! Paul J. Campbell was my great grandfather.ReplyDelete
Really? Cool. So you've been in he jacket, I take it?Delete
I'm willing to pay 100k for jacket! 8009876711 Gerald LasowskiDelete
i have a school project and im trying to do it off him, but i dont know what to do....any ideas? You have to make an object and a name based of of a person. so say if i choose houdini (which i am) i have to draw a picture of a esape.Delete
One item Jon Oliver did not get his hands on.ReplyDelete
That mannequin torso is also guilty of Straitjacket Fail!ReplyDelete
There are no color photographs of the sacks employed by Houdini in Metamorphosis so we don't know for sure if it was green. One could make a stagecraft case for using a different color for contrast or a similar color of the trunk for conformity. One would think that the cuffs, keys & sack would have been stored in the trunk, but, who knows?ReplyDelete
That should be worth 1 million dollars.ReplyDelete
Interesting show segment. I live in Appleton where Houdini grew up in his early years. His recognition is displayed quite a bit in the area including a elementary school named after him.ReplyDelete
Looks like the distant in between the collar and the torso of the jacket are not the same. Also Houdinis jacket down have that middle line belt mark across under the first belt. Not the same jacket to me.ReplyDelete