Extraordinary auction of silent diva’s collection

Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Boston, MA – An auction of silent movie star Filipa Darlo’s furniture, clothing and movie memorabilia, which included a six-foot tall sphinx used in the movie The Pharaoh and a pair of red shoes, allowed collectors and spectators a rare look into the reclusive diva’s life.

Filipa Darlo died a decade ago. Her estate was contested by two family members and a legal battle ensued, one that did not conclude until last year when Darlo’s great-nephews reached an agreement which allowed them to auction off most of the movie star’s possessions.

Darlo, a native of Innsmouth, started working in movies as a teenager and by the time she turned 20, she was one of the most sought-after actresses of her time. She married another famous movie star, the swashbuckling Kirk Gilbert. The arrival of talkies spelled the end of her career and of her marriage. She appeared only sporadically in pictures with sound and by 1935 she retired from the movie business completely. In 1955 she sold her Gothic-style Hollywood mansion, nicknamed Radcliffe, and moved back to Innsmouth.

By this time, Darlo had grown reclusive and would only appear around town wearing a black veil and a long black dress, many speculated, in honour of her only child who had died several decades before.

Some of the more remarkable items sold Friday night included a wedding dress worn by Darlo in one of her last movies and a pair of beloved red shoes that Darlo sported very often. Darlo said the shoes had been the property of a French noblewoman killed during the Revolution. She even claimed they had originally been white but were dyed red with the woman’s blood when she was horribly tortured and murdered.

This is not inconsistent with Darlo’s morbid sense of humour and her often fantastic stories about some of the objects she had acquired during her lifetime.

The shoes, along with the dress, were purchased by pop sensation Sierra, who said she intends to use them as inspiration for her upcoming role in a Filipa Darlo biopic.

When asked if she believes the story about the shoes Sierra laughed.

“Of course not. Darlo also said she was the child of an Italian magician and a Hungarian princess, and we know she was born and raised in Innsmouth by a couple who owned a little store there,” Sierra said.  “She created this image of the mysterious, dangerous femme-fatale when she became famous for the sake of her movies and she maintained it later on in life. That’s pretty much what I’ve learnt about her through my research.”

Sierra said she is excited about working in her first feature film and hopes to embody all of  the excitement and glamour that was part of Darlo.

About IFP

Keep Innsmouth going! Purchase our anthologies and books.

IFPExtraordinary auction of silent diva’s collection