After 50 Years, Disney Relics To Return To U.s.

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Some 250 pieces of original Disney animation art that wound up lying in a janitor's closet at Chiba University in Japan for nearly a half century are due to be returned to the Walt Disney Co. after being rediscovered. In return, Disney has agreed to provide high-resolution digital copies of the artworks and $1 million to be used by the university to further studies in animation art. Items in the collection had originally been selected by Walt Disney himself to illustrate both the history of animation and its processes. It includes artwork from the 1932 short Flowers and Trees, Disney's first animated film in Technicolor. Since the exhibit was also intended to promote the Japanese opening of Sleeping Beauty, a large portion of the material focuses on that film, but there are also cels and background paintings from such movies as Fantasia, Bambi, and Cinderella. "There is no way to put a price on these works -- they represent our artistic heritage," Lella Smith, creative director of the Disney Animation Research Library, told the New York Times. "That said, their value as archival materials for study and research is very high."



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