December 1, 2023

That bar doesn’t come with Ted Danson, does it?

It may not be a little-known fact, but the final episode of “Cheers” aired 30 years ago last month, and now one lucky bidder can celebrate by throwing back a few beers at the actual bar from the set of the comedy.

The bar from the beloved series sold for $675,000 at an auction over the weekend. It was the highest selling classic television relic that sold among nearly 1,000 props, costumes and set pieces that TV memorabilia connoisseur James Comisar amassed over more than three decades.

Comisar had dreamed of creating a museum to house his collection, but it never came to fruition, so after more than 30 years, he decided to let fans fight for the well-preserved pieces. Dallas’ Heritage Auctions orchestrated the three-day event, which brought in more than 4,700 bidders and concluded with more than $5.3 million in sales.

The “Cheers” bar, complete with brass railings and the stools where “Cheers” characters Dr. Frasier Crane, Norm Peterson and Cliff Clavin commiserated over spirits and suds, inspired a bidding war. It was entered into the auction at $100,000, but reached more than $200,000 before bidding even began. The high bidder was a mysterious collector who phoned in, and an auction representative raised the paddle in their place.

“There’s always drama at an auction. That’s what we’re trying to create. We want drama,” Joshua Benesh, Heritage’s chief strategy officer, told The Times. “You know, it’s one of those opportunities where one-of-a-kind items have this tendency to bring people out of the woodwork.

“If the only other pair of chairs from ‘All in the Family’ is in the Smithsonian, this is your shot. What are they going to go for? If there’s only one ‘Cheers’ bar in the world, what’s it gonna go for?”

The answer: A lot.

Among the other memorabilia sold were the Batman and Robin costumes worn by Adam West and Burt Ward in the 1960s television series; the suits went for $615,000. And the sole surviving “bulletproof” Bat-shield used in two episodes sold for $100,000.

The desk where Johnny Carson hosted guests on “The Tonight Show” went for $275,000. According to Benesh, bidders included fans, collectors and even guests who once appeared on “The Tonight Show,” hoping to acquire a piece of their own history with the king of late night.

The set from “All in the Family,” which included Archie and Edith Bunker’s living and dining rooms and stairwell, sold for $125,000. The Associated Press reported that the same buyer, whom Benesh says is an “All in the Family” fanatic and collector, also made the winning bid of $250,000 for the chairs used by the TV couple in the series’s ninth season.

“Collectors are passionate about characters and shows that they grew up with, that have been part of our lives and that we’ve welcomed into our home,” Benesh said. “You saw some of the most esoteric and banal items just explode because two, three, four or sometimes five people just really wanted to own that thing and take care of it for the next generation and have it be part of their lives and put it on display.”

Comisar said the auction’s success confirmed what he’d known all along. “Television characters are cherished members of our extended family, and their stories and our own are inseparable.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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