July 21, 2009 / 1:15 AM / 10 years ago

Huge Hollywood prop house closing after 40 years

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Hollywood’s second-largest prop house is going out of business with its owner saying he has fallen victim to film and TV production leaving California for other U.S. states that lure producers with tax incentives and fewer restrictions.

Harvey Schwartz, owner of 20th Century Props, poses in the warehouse in North Hollywood, July 20, 2009. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

20th Century Props is closing its doors for good at the end of July and auctioning off a collection of 93,000 props from such films as “Cleopatra” and “Titanic”, as well as TV’s “The X Files” and “Golden Girls” and music videos from Michael Jackson, Britney Spears and Madonna.

“I ran out of money about three months ago. The Hollywood business is leaving town and going to various other states,” 20th Century’s owner, Harvey Schwartz, told Reuters.

“I’m broken hearted,” he said. “I’ve built this huge company that is a one-of-a-kind company that can fulfill Hollywood’s needs like no other.”

Schwartz has run 20th Century Props for 40 years, claiming to be the second-biggest prop house in the world and the largest under one roof, a 120,000 square foot (11,150 sq meter) warehouse in suburban North Hollywood near Universal Studios.

He said business been slowing down for years as productions left California for Canada and other states that offered tax credits and eased rules about filming.

“They are also offering really low prices on filming on the streets and filming permits, where California raised the prices last year,” he said.

Schwartz said he diversified a few years ago, going into parties and events, but “then last November the economy took a nosedive and everybody canceled their parties and events for the holidays.”

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in February signed a law creating the first-ever tax credits for film and TV productions in California. But they don’t take effect until 2011 and Schwartz said that’s too late to save his business.

“Hollywood is Hollywood and we’ll never lose that cachet, but Hollywood represents the past,” he said.

The auction runs July 28 through Aug 1 at Schwartz’s warehouse in North Hollywood, followed by an online sale.

Editing by Bob Tourtellotte

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