Most people would go to extreme lengths to meet their idols and have this moment caught on camera so they can cherish it and brag about it forever, and here is this unidentified guy posing for photos with Hollywood's finest celebrities. He blends into classy parties to the point you might think he's one of those celebrities you know, but just can't put a name to a face. Despite being completely unknown, he seems to be hanging out with the biggest names in the entertainment world. What a legend!
This amazing collection was recently found by a talented artist and photo dealer, Dan Barry, who took us on a nostalgic trip down the memory lane of what Hollywood's A-list stars looked like almost 30 years ago through personal pictures of an "unknown guy." The only question that remains unanswered: why would someone discard such a precious collection?
The fresh-faced young man managed to get his photos taken with the most famous faces such as Meryl Streep, Will Smith, Nicole Kidman, Robert Downey Jr., Janet Jackson, Jodie Foster, Winona Ryder, Quentin Tarantino, Steven Spielberg, and Clint Eastwood, just to name a few.
Since the photos were found this past January, it has been discovered that they have been taken at Tina Brown Hosts "The New Yorker Goes to the Movies" event on March 14, 1994, at Hotel Bel-Air in Bel-Air in Los Angeles, California. The same man was spotted a week later at a black-tie event at the 66th Academy Awards in Los Angeles. He seemed to stay in Hollywood's behind-the-scenes for some time after that as more recent shots with Demi Moore, Christina Aguilera, Mr. T, and more suggest.
Dan Barry told Bored Panda about how he came across these pictures online: "I'm always trying to find strange, interesting and extraordinary photos to share with other merchants and photo collectors, that's how I found this collection. I couldn't identify the guy in the photos or someone knowing his identity."
Born and raised in rural Wisconsin, Dan Barry, who now lives in Austin, Texas, quit his corporate job five years ago to fully dedicate his time to mixed-media art. Trading vintage photos and other finds became a way of earning a living in between exhibitions and art sales.
"It didn't take me long to discover that there was some money to be made by buying and selling photos found. Five years ago, I stopped my corporate work (working at the same company for over 20 years) to have more time to dedicate myself to my art. I consider being an artist my main profession. And the photo trade has become a good way to earn money to pay my bills between exhibitions and sales. I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit."
Barry is constantly looking for inspiration he could use in his own art, and on the way, he finds interesting and valuable gems just like this collection of celebrity photos.
"Part of how I became a photo retailer is that I often use vintage photos and snapshots found in my works of art, so I was spending a lot of time looking for photos I could use or inspire me with."
"While looking for old photos to use in my works of art or to resell, I often think about how all those photos discarded at one point meant something to someone."
We asked Barry why seemingly precious photo collections like these lose their owners: "I could imagine that photo collections like this get separated from their initial owner when they are going through some sort of transition in life—leaving things behind in a move, forgotten in a storage locker and/or possibly, sadly upon their passing."
"With vintage photos, as when people collect coins, or art pottery, or baseball cards, etc— rarity, scarcity, and uniqueness have an impact on value," Barry told us why old strangers' photographs are a valuable find. "In this day and age, people experience photos and photo-taking in a very different way than they did just a couple of decades ago. I think a lot of people, myself included, find vintage photos to be little moments frozen in time. For some, the search for vintage photos is a way to spark their imagination and to connect to the past."
Barry said he hasn't tried to identify the unknown man who took pictures with celebrities, but it only makes these photos more intriguing.
"Knowing the identity of the young man in the photos would help to complete the story, but not knowing is intriguing and interesting in it own way."
"I can appreciate photograph types from the 1860s thru the 1990s—CDVs and tintypes, to cabinet cards and RPPCs (real photo postcards), but most interesting to me know are 20th-century snapshots. Once cameras and photo-taking became accessible to more people—they started to photograph their lives, their surroundings, loved ones and whatever was of interest to them. Taking photographs became a form of recreation and a part of our culture. Now with a few decades of distance, I and many people enjoy revisiting the 1970s, 80s, and 90s through vernacular snapshots," Barry told us about the photos he likes the most.
A year ago, we shared a similar gem found in a thrift shop in Belgium when Opnieuw & Co discovered an old album full of photographs of a mysterious woman posting next to the biggest stars in Hollywood. It later became clear that the woman was Maria Snoeys-Lagler, a member of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, and the album captured her proudest moments at work. Could this be a similar scenario? Turn on your inner detective and let us know in the comments who you think these photos might have belonged to!