Manuscript For A Dune Film You’ll Never See Sells for Around $4.4 Million

Manuscript For A Dune Film You’ll Never See Sells for Around $4.4 Million

In the 1970s, long before the Denis Villeneuve flick of the same name hit cinemas, Alejandro Jodorowosky spent most of his time writing a manuscript adaptation of Frank Herbert’s novel, Dune. It was famously unpublished, and actually never really completed.

There’s a doco on the process, Jodorowsky’s Dune, which was directed by Frank Pavich and released in 2013. It explored Jodorowosky’s unsuccessful adaptation attempt.

But the original work from Jodorowosky features thousands of illustrations from Swiss artist Hans Ruedi Giger, Jean Giraud, also known as Moebius and British illustrator Chris Foss, as well as a complete storyboard for the unrealised epic. The film project was also meant to bring together the likes of Salvador Dalí, Mick Jagger and Pink Floyd, but it fell apart after four years of preparation due to funding.

The plan was for the 15-hour space epic to feature Orson Welles as Baron Harkonnen, Salvador Dalí as the emperor Shaddam IV and Pink Floyd would be in charge of the accompanying soundtrack.

Dune Auction
Image: Christie’s

Jodorowosky’s Dune has become somewhat of a cult classic. So much so Jodorowosky’s Dune just sold at auction for over $2 million more than it was expected to sell for (!!!).

It went on auction at Christie’s for the first time in years. Its final going price was about $US3.2 million – a little over $4.46 million in Aussie dollars.

Christie’s initial valuation for the drawings was between €25,000 and €35,000 – around $38,000-$55,000.

There’s a lot to unpack here, and film historian Jamie Benning was kind enough to do this for us on his Twitter.

Dune DAO – Dune Decentralized Autonomous Organization (a crowdfunding effort of the Dune Foundation) raised about $US750,00 to buy Jodorowsky’s Dune book. A “core member” of Dune DAO, known as Twitter user @sobylife, put up $US2 million to seal the deal at auction.

“Dune DAO is continuing its raise to reimburse the member and obtain the manuscript at cost,” the foundation wrote.

Before auction, the Dune Foundation said it was crowdraising the purchase, and that it would then collectively explore options to digitally preserve the manuscript and make it accessible to the public for the very first time, such as through public viewings and digital lending (to the extent permitted by law). It considered this a far better option than letting Jodorowosky’s Dune remain hidden away in private collections.


If the ‘Decentralized Autonomous Organization’ part didn’t give it away, this Dune auction transaction involves crypto.

“The artwork and storyboard in this legendary Dune adaptation is strongly in the public’s interest and has long been sought after by curious individuals. With crypto technology we are able to liberate it from private collectors while maintaining security and fairness to the crowdfunders,” the Dune Foundation wrote.

“We believe this project is not just achieving a public good in aiming to make accessible a culturally significant artwork, but also in demonstrating the power of new tools in Crypto & Web3 to coordinate and organise individuals towards projects like this.”

Contributors to Dune DAO’s crowdfunding efforts were given a $SPICE token in return for their funds, serving as a governance token. It was managed on the Snapshot platform.

The manuscript’s contents have long been sought after. Another copy sold for $US42,500 (around $58,000) in 2019. It is believed there’s perhaps 20 copies of Jodorowosky’s Dune out in the wild.

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