Medusa – a journey from Shag’s brush to the auction block

An interesting piece is being auctioned on eBay, and I thought it would be intriguing to trace its origin and journey from it’s 2009 design up to the present. This blog post focuses on the Medusa art sign as shown in the eBay auction but also looks at the environment that it has travelled through.

The Haunted Mansion is a dark ride that previewed at Disneyland in 1965 and opened publicly in 1969. The ride has been copied to other Disney parks in different forms.

Photograph 1: The Disneyland Haunted Mansion

In 2009, Disneyland celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Haunted Mansion ride. Josh Agle was asked to design a range of merchandise for the anniversary, including a decanter, glasses, pins, coasters, a tray, a cookie jar clothing and a series of prints.

Photographs 2 & 3: Some of the Shag designed pieces

The changing portraits hung in the portrait corridor of the haunted mansion ride (dependent upon park location) were re-imagined by Shag and used across several anniversary pieces. The original images include April-December, Flying Dutchman, Medusa, the Black Prince, the Werecat Lady and the Aging Man. These images can be seen on the clothing, decanter, glasses and photo/art Mat with bat frame (as shown below). Shag also included the Hatbox Ghost, which was part of the 1969 ride opening but removed within a few months because of technical problems; due to fan interest he was re-introduced back into the ride in 2015:

Photographs 4 & 5: Original and re-imagined changing portraits 

Photograph 6: Shag’s Hallway Portraits image (2009)

Shag’s Haunted Mansion 40th Anniversary Product Release was held on Sunday 9th August, 2009 at Disneyland in California. All of the Shag designed merchandise was available for purchase at this event, and the artist was present for signing and discussing his work. There is a great write-up of the event on the MiceChat blog.

Photograph 7: Sign from the Shag Haunted Mansion 40th Anniversary Product Release

An exclusive Haunted Mansion 40th anniversary merchandise event was held one month later on the 09/09/09 at Disneyland, California. The itinerary for the day was as follows:

  • 09:00 Registration and event store package pickup
  • 12:30 Artist signing event at the Grand Californian’s Sequoia ballroom
  • 17:00 Spirited Séance and Haunting Seminar panel
  • 19:00 Wedding ‘Feast or Famine‘ dinner and show at Disney California Adventure’s Stage 17
  • 22:00 ‘Spine-tingling Toast and Cake Slicing‘ event at Haunted Mansion attraction
  • 22:30 Ride through and conclusion (until midnight)


Photographs 8 & 9: Invites for the Haunted Mansion 40th anniversary merchandise event

There is an excellent blog post on the Haunted Mansion 40th anniversary event on Cindy’s Disneyland Resort Page. Three of the changing portrait images were printed on sturdy boards (57″ x 41″) and used for the event; these were the Medusa, the Hatbox Ghost, and the Black Prince. The Medusa event sign can be seen in the photograph below during the wedding, heading a table of canapés.

Photograph 10: The Medusa event sign at the 09/09/09 merchandise event

D23 is the official fan club for The Walt Disney Company, named D for Disney and 23 for 1923 – the year that Walt Disney founded the company. A silent auction was held throughout the weekend of the bi-annual D23 expo at the Anaheim convention center from 9-11 August 2013. The auction included many pieces from the Disney parks including ride cars, pictures, sculptures, and props as well as some Josh Agle art signs. An extensive review of the auction can be read on the Disney Dose blog.

Photograph 11: The haunted mansion 40th anniversary portrait set (lot 4), designed by Shag, sold for $1200 USD.

Photograph 12: The haunted mansion 40th anniversary Hitchhiking Ghosts (lot 5) set sold for $1400 USD.

Photograph 13: Also of note is the large 50th anniversary Disneyland map from 2005 (lot 2) which sold for $750 USD.

In 2014 Disney held a ‘Haunt your Disney side’ contest with a prize of a private ‘Midnight at the Haunted Mansion’ party for four and an overnight stay at Cinderella’s castle. Photographs used in the advertising included Josh Agle art signs –

Photographs 14 & 15: Advertising images from the ‘Haunt your Disney side’ competition

The re-imagined changing portraits were created by Shag in 2009 for the 40th anniversary of the Haunted Mansion ride. They were produced by Disney as large signs and used for the merchandising event in the same year. After being stored for four years, they were sold at auction during the D23 expo for $1200 USD. Photographs including the signs were also used in 2014 for the ‘Haunt your Disney side’ competition. Now in 2017, at a ripe old age of eight years, the signs are being individually auctioned online at eBay.

The first haunted mansion sign was individually auctioned on eBay earlier in 2017 with a title “Disney THE HAUNTED MANSION Hatbox Ghost 40th Anniversary Shag Art Sign Prop”. There is no record of what the Hatbox Ghost sold for as the link is unfortunately no longer active.

Photograph 16: First auctioned haunted mansion sign – Hatbox Ghost

The second Haunted Mansion 40th anniversary Disneyland special event sign was put up for auction on eBay in August with a Buy It Now price of $750 USD. The Medusa sign is 57” by 41” in size and is on a “very hard study board”. This piece is still up for sale by its seller, Florida Disney collector theparkcollector.

Photograph 17: Second auctioned haunted mansion sign – Medusa

Thank you for joining me on the journey of a single piece of Shag’s art, and to end with the ghost hostesses last words –

Hurry back… hurry back!
Be sure to bring your death certificate, if you decide to join us.
Make final arrangements now.
We’ve been ‘dying’ to have you.

Photograph 18: Madame Leota at the Disneyland Haunted Mansion ride

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