CHADDS FORD, Pennsylvania, USA — His real name is George Reiger, but to millions of TV viewers, Disney theme park employees and fellow Disneyana collectors worldwide, he’s known simply as “the Disney tattoo guy.”
Reiger, whose body is covered with 2,200 authorized tattoos of Disney cartoon characters and film stars, has discussed his Disney obsession – both as a living cartoon billboard and Disneyana collector – in thousands of interviews. “I’ve been on every talk show except ‘Oprah’ and Jerry Springer,” Reiger said.
A former postal worker and an accomplished magician who performs 200 shows a year, Reiger has spent every spare penny earned over the last 40 years on Disney limited-edition theme park and convention collectibles. His specialty? “Everything. I have everything,” he said. And that immense collection of around 5,000 theme park props, pins, bronzes, animation cels and every other imaginable Disney keepsake, is about to go to auction.
Reiger’s entire Disney archive – including even the custom-designed doors, ceilings, knobs and fixtures from his 6,000-square-foot Mickey Mouse-theme house – will be auctioned Nov. 15 at the William H. Bunch gallery in Chadds Ford, Pa.
“It took our staff three days to photograph and tag the items in George’s collection, which was displayed inside and on the 42-acre grounds of his home. I’ve never seen anything like it – I’ll bet he throws a heck of a Halloween party,” said auctioneer William Bunch.
Reiger has made many hundreds of visits to the various Disney theme parks, where Disneyana collector conventions are held. “The conventions I attended always had limited-edition merchandise made specifically for the event that you couldn’t buy anywhere else. People would stand in long lines just to buy a $10 convention pin. I always bought everything that was available,” Reiger said.
Reiger’s vast collection includes many rare large-scale items from actual Disney theme park rides, like a 15-foot-long, custom-built Nautilus submarine. “There are only two others in the world – in Tokyo and at Disney’s Hollywood Studios,” he said. Another of Reiger’s prized items is an 8-foot-tall articulated Jack Skellington figure from the Disney/Tim Burton fantasy film “The Nightmare Before Christmas.”
Each item in the auction will be sold to the highest bidder, regardless of price. “There are small items that may go for $20 and others that might go for thousands,” said Bunch.