The Fascinating Saga of Germany’s Audrey Hepburn “Error” Stamps


Audrey Hepburn photo with sunglasses- Holly Golightly in Breakfast At Tiffany's. - Source:

Take a close look at the above photograph…

Now, examine carefully the stamps below:  


Notice a difference?

Yes, you got it  🙂

Audrey Hepburn is pictured with a woman’s cigarette holder instead of the sunglasses on the original photo !!

How come ?
Read on…
Sean Ferrer, Audrey Hepburn’s son, will tell us more…

“In the original photo, she’s got sunglasses hanging from her mouth, but they (Germany Postal Administration)  had flipped the negative and replaced the glasses with the cigarette holder,”  Ferrer told The Associated Press this month.

Sean Ferrer -Schlegel Auction German Error Audrey Hepburn Mint Sheet

Sean Ferrer at Schlegel Auction House beside A$610,000. Sold German Error Mint Sheet Stamp

The first printing of the German sheets of 10 stamps had been destroyed back in 2001 , when Sean Ferrer refused to grant copyright to the German Postal Administration, arguing that the image had been altered.
Only 3 mint sheets survived…the one Ferrer received from the German Postal administration and two others for the post office archive and museum.
If that is the case, how come single postally used stamps started to surfaced and reach the desktop  of Auction Houses?

Read on….
Glen Stephens will tell us more…


Glen Stephen - Stamp News Australasia
Glen Stephen – Stamp News Australasia

In his September Newsletter, Glen Stephen reports :

The story of this famous stamp began in 2001 when the German post office (Deutsche Post) decided to issue a set of semi-postal stamps featuring movie stars, including Audrey Hepburn. They were to be issued in panes of 10 – the usual format in Germany. 

At the last minute, one of Hepburn’s two sons, Sean Ferrer objected to the stamp design, and refused to grant copyright approval.

Deutsche Post had strangely not sought family permission to use her image it seems. 

Ferrer is an active campaigner against alcohol and tobacco addiction and abuse.

It appears the first he knew of the impending issue, was when Deutsche Post mailed him a single mint stamp, and a pane showing their next issue.

Ferrer suggested using either the original photo or an alternative, but the postal service ended up scrapping the stamp and ordering those produced destroyed.

Deutsche Post says it saved only two sheets of the stamps – one for its own archive and one for the German Post Museum. But in 2004, a single stamp with Hepburn smoking, postmarked Berlin, landed on auctioneer Andreas Schlegel’s desk.

“I was obviously very surprised, because they never were supposed to be used as stamps at all,” Schlegel said.

Between 2004 and 2009, four other Hepburn stamps turned up and were authenticated. They sold at auction for between $87,200 and $341,000.

After his success selling the fifth stamp, Schlegel contacted Ferrer to suggest asking the German government if they could sell one of the archived stamp sheets for charity. But Ferrer had a better idea: Why not the pristine sheet Germany sent him in 2001, which he still had?

“Andreas almost fell backward and had an apoplectic fit when he heard this,” Ferrer said.

Ferrer then signed a contract with the German Finance Ministry, securing rights to sell the stamp sheet for charity and ensuring the government would not be able to sell either of its sheets until 2040.

That move helped drive up the price of the auction, said Mercer Bristow, director of stamp authentication for the American Philatelic Society.

“It goes back to supply and demand. It’s the only sheet out there people can bid on and she’s still such a popular actress,” he told the AP from Bellefonte, Pa.


Where did the used copies of stamps surfaced from?  From kiloware packages!

Kiloware is a term for packages of postage stamps sold to stamp collectors by weight rather than by quantity, often in kilograms, hence the name. Kiloware usually consists of used stamps on paper from mail clippings, although off paper stamps may also be sold as kiloware.

A postal employee would have taken out some sheets out of the destroying process and used them to mail out his correspondance!

Get the whole  story on this fascinating saga at  Glen Stephen’s Cover Stories .  As Glen says, his reporting will : “…give you the full rundown – it is the most comprehensive coverage of these stamps – in English OR German. And shows EVERY copy of the stamp known to exist, and outlines their unique stories.”


Used copy #3 of Audrey Hepburn Germany Error Stamp - Source

Mrs Gaby Bennewirtz, on the photo above, bought  #3 of the 5 postally used error stamps on behalf of her husband, a stamp collector and investment manager, Gerd Bennewirtz.

What a great addition to a Cinema/Movies and Error, Oddities , Freaks topical stamp collections!

Happy collecting and talk soon,


Your Topical Stamp Collecting Queen 😉


Free Video Reveals #1 Secret To Stamp Collecting!


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