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AU Bank in Clunes digs into golden past

Property Here - Monday, May 20, 2013

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A CROWD of about 100 people blocked the main street of Clunes yesterday as a unique piece of film history was auctioned in the regional Victorian town.

The former State Savings Bank in Clunes, used as a set for the film Ned Kelly and with a bank vault door signed by Heath Ledger, attracted attention from buyers in all of Australia’s major capitals.

But after just two bids it was passed in at $550,000.

The words 'Thanks for letting me rob ya bank, Ned', and the actor's signature written on the inside of the bank's walk-in-vault door were a major part of the sales pitch, and the signature was on display for the public with a rare opening of the vault for the occasion.

Had the signed bank and four-bedroom residence on the same title sold it would have arguably set a new record for Australian memorabilia, well past the $402,500 paid for one of Sir Don Bradman's baggie green caps - believed to be the record holder.

While the signed bank vault may not fit the typical mould of memorabilia, current owner Leanne Kamp believes the signature is a treasure worthy of being kept under lock and key.

"It's certainly something we have treasured over the years,'' she said.

She also believes it will sell in short order after solid interest leading up to the auction.

Ms Kamp remembers hiding in a hallway while watching Ledger and co-star Orlando Bloom burst inside the building during filming.

And the former bank has been a decent earner over the years, with Gold Logie winner Rebecca Gibney also coming through its doors to shoot an episode of the Halifax FP.

Clunes itself was used in the filming of Mad Max.

"The Ned Kelly movie paid very well, which was an absolute bonus, (you get) in the thousands of dollars when they are filming and that can just be for one day,'' Ms Kamp said.

Jo Millar, from AAG Property Consultants, is handling the sale and said while buyers were attracted to the business and residential side of the offering, the signature added appeal.

"It would definitely be a draw card for a business, or if you are into the movie star thing it would be definitely be worth it,'' Ms Millar said.

Charles Leski of Leski Auctions, which handles most auctions for Australian film memorabilia, said items relating to Heath Ledger are rare.

"There's not a whole lot around, he didn't have a very long career and there are people who would consider it (Ledger's signature) an important autograph to have,'' Mr Leski said.

"But people like something a little more practical than a bank vault.''

Mr Leski argued the main value from the signature would be if the new owner planned to make something of it - like a gallery or restaurant.

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