John Basmajian | The Basmajian Animation Art Collection


This website is a celebration of the life of Disney Animation Artist John Basmajian (1899-1989) and his extraordinary legacy of animation art preservation.

During World War II, John Basmajian, along with other employees of Walt Disney Productions, was given permission to salvage some of the artwork created for and used in the studio’s animation projects up to that time. These artwork pieces, which included character sketches, background paintings, storyboards, and actual painted cells used in production, were to be discarded from the Disney “morgue” as they had no further value to the studio.
Realizing the intrinsic value of animation art as new American fine art, John Basmajian seized the opportunity given by the studio to “save” as much of this special art as he could in order to preserve it for future generations. Having amassed more animation art than anyone else at that time, John embarked on what would become a lifelong mission to meticulously preserve each piece of the Collection for posterity.

In 1984 a number of pieces from the Basmajian Collection were sold in a landmark auction held by Christie’s East in New York. The success of the auction firmly established universal recognition and a new consciousness that vintage animation art, particularly that of Disney, is a true and pure form of American fine art. Since the historic Basmajian-Christie’s auction, this fragile, delicate, and beautiful artwork has been highly prized and lovingly sought after by large numbers of people from all over the world.