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'Spitting Image' Puppets Auctioned over Internet

Aired July 20, 2000 - 2:41 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDRIA HALL, CNN ANCHOR: The Queen of England recently spent some time on the auction block. Well, to be precise, her puppet image was auctioned off on the Internet. She was in good company, in an auction of other puppets from the British TV show "Spitting Image."

As CNN's Tom Mintier reports, there's a chance that some of the puppets went home with their namesakes.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM MINTIER, CNN LONDON BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): It was the hottest thing on British television, more than 15 million viewers tuned in each week to watch puppets engage in pointed political satire.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "SPITTING IMAGE")

UNIDENTIFIED PUPPETEER: What do we call it when people go around stealing other people's property. You!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MINTIER: The show was called "Spitting Image" and it ran on British TV for 12 years. There were more than 1,000 latex puppets made for the show. The Sunday night show has been off the air for four years, but the famous puppets have not been forgotten.

KERRI TAYLOR, SOTHEBY'S: Marvelous, absolutely fantastic response. I mean, who would have thought that a piece of latex-rubber would sell for 15,250, plus buyer's premium, plus VAT (ph), I mean, certainly not me. We were absolutely astonished by the response to this sale.

MINTIER: Sotheby's has now sold most of the puppets at auction on the Internet. Margaret Thatcher sold for the most money, by far: more than $15,000. The Queen of England sold for much less: just over 5,000. Ronald Reagan sold for more than 2,000. The pope sold for more than 2,800.

There was the King, not that one, this one, Elvis: 3,100 bid. Saddam Hussein, more than $1,700 bid. The auction conducted over the net generated plenty of bids, but all done secretly, no clue as to whether some people bought their own image. TAYLOR: Sometimes it's a member of their family or a girlfriend who wants to produce this in a few days' time sitting at the breakfast table and say, surprise.

MINTIER: While most the puppets have been sold, there is little chance of the Internet buyers putting on their own show with the purchased puppets. The creators are holding onto the intellectual property rights.

Oh, yes, one of the least expensive puppets was former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz, just $450 and only two bidders. I wonder?

Tom Mintier, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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