Meet Bryan Watkins: Inside the Collection
You're gonna love these rare I Love Lucy dolls, costumes, paintings and more!
Jul. 26, 2020
Bryan Watkins has been a Lucille Ball fan since childhood. He hasn't just "loved" Lucy, he's collected her — assembling a range of items from rare memorabilia to precious personal possessions.
He shares with us some of his most treasured acquisitions, including family portraits commissioned by Lucy; a bullfighter hat worn onscreen by Desi Arnaz; a female I Love Lucy baby doll pulled from the shelves after she gave birth to a boy; and a mini-collection of in-store displays featuring Lucy as celebrity spokeswoman.
We brought along Kieta, a memorabilia expert and fellow lover of Lucy, to appraise his collection.
1. 'I Love Lucy' Rag Doll
Our appraiser declares this vintage ragdoll from the Fifties in "fantastic" condition. It helps that Bryan also has…
2. 'I Love Lucy' Rag Doll Packaging
…the original box! It's a common theme in Bryan's collection — and something that drives up his values. He has the original packaging for the products. That makes this doll worth about $1,500.
3. 'I Love Lucy' Rag Doll Skirt
Here is a close-up of the clothing on the doll.
4. Screen-used Matador Hat
A memorable episode of The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour pitted Lucy against a raging bull. This bullfighting hat was not Lucy's, but rather the one worn by Desi. The prove is below…
5. Desi Arnaz Matador Hat
In the lining of the hat, you can find the stamp of the manufacturer, Western Costumes, Desi's personalized identification… and sweat stains. That makes this piece of historic Hollywood wardrobe worth about $1,500.
6. Philip Morris Christmas Cigarettes
Philip Morris, a key sponsor of I Love Lucy, featured the stars on its cartons, and printed special editions for certain holidays, like this Christmas version.
7. Philip Morris Father's Day Cigarettes
Dear ol' dad has a special cartoon, too. Bryan's Lucy smokes alone are worth about $3,500.
8. Philip Morris Advertising
Bryan also has a few pieces of rare vintage marketing materials with Ball pitching Philip Morris cigarettes.
9. Philip Morris Holiday Placard
Here is another piece of I Love Lucy tobacco ephemera. In total, Bryan's Philip Morris materials add up to about $11,300.
10. 'I Love Lucy' Baby Doll
Lucille Ball's pregnancy was famously worked into the plot of I Love Lucy. The nation eagerly awaited the baby of Lucy and Desi. The producers wrongly assumed that the child would be a girl. This doll was made to promote the addition to the family. However, Desi Jr. was born in 1953 — and "Little Ricky" was introduced on the sitcom. The female doll was nixed and pulled off the shelves. Bryan has this stellar leftover.
11. 'I Love Lucy' Baby Doll Box
As we mentioned, the box makes all the difference in the value.
12. 'I Love Lucy' Baby Doll Accoutrement
Bryan's doll even still has the brochure and the bubble blowers that came with. It's all worth about $2,500.
13. Family Oil Portraits
At the top of this page and her you can see oil portraits commissioned by Lucy and Desi in 1955. They were painted by Moritz Grossman, and Bryan still has the business card from the transaction.
14. Desi Jr. Portrait
Little Lucie Arnaz was alive when these family portraits were made but, alas, Bryan does not have one of her. Still, the set is worth about $2,000.
15. Desi Arnaz Original "Babalu" Artwork
Here is another painting, one used as the record cover for "Babalu." Not only that, this piece of art once hung in Lucy and Desi's house, and Bryan has photographic proof. The frame was Bryan's addition — and has it's own fascinating story. He bought it for $15 at a yard sale. Turns out, it's real gold and worth $1,000.
16. "The Lucy Room"
Bryan estimates that he has about 800–1,000 pieces of Lucille Ball memorabilia in his "Lucy Room."
17. 'I Love Lucy' Hat
Our appraiser brought this item as a potential trade — an original piece of wardrobe worn by Lucille Ball on I Love Lucy. You've probably only seen it in black and white, but note the beautiful colors.