A sheet of 10 rare postage stamps featuring film star Audrey Hepburn smoking a cigarette, with a face value of 56 cents, were auctioned off for charity in Berlin and fetched some 430,000 euros ($600,000).
The mint-condition sheet of 10 stamps featuring Hepburn, a coy smile on her face and a long, black cigarette holder dangling from her lips, brought a profitable outcome to a botched stamp series that should have been destroyed years ago — and evokes Hepburn’s starring role in the 1963 thriller “Charade,” in which the characters chase a set of rare stamps.
Sean Ferrer, 50, Hepburn’s son with actor and director Mel Ferrer, and the chair of the Audrey Hepburn Children’s Fund, said he was thrilled that the sale Saturday brought “focus on children in need,” but wished the stamps had sold for a higher price.
The German Postal Service printed 14 million of the commemorative stamps in 2001 without obtaining the rights to the picture. When Hepburn’s children objected to the stamps, most of them were destroyed.
Two-thirds of the proceeds will go to the Audrey Hepburn Children’s Fund, which was set up in 1994 by the actress’s sons to improve the lives of children around the world. It will be used to educate youngsters in sub-Saharan Africa, according to the charity’s website.
The other third will go to UNICEF Germany. Hepburn had been Goodwill Ambassador to the United Nations Children Fund from 1988 until her death from cancer in 1993.