When Charlie Kratzer's Horse Mania horse goes up for auction on Dec. 3, it will have a little something extra on its side: the signature of Kentucky native and A-list movie star Johnny Depp.
Kratzer's creation was LewHorse Carroll (Alice in Wonderland), a representation of Sir John Tenniel's drawings for the original Lewis Carroll book of Alice. It was inspired by Depp's appearance as the Mad Hatter in Tim Burton's recent film version of the story.
"This feels like it brings the project full circle," said Kratzer, associate general counsel for Lexmark who became an Internet sensation in 2008 with a Herald-Leader story about his basement which he decorated entirely with intricate drawings from film and literature with Sharpie markers.
LewHorse was similarly created with Sharpies, the pen of choice for autographs.
The story of how Kratzer secured Depp's signature is rooted in a few Hollywoodisms like, "it's all who you know" and "six degrees of separation."
It turns out Kratzer isn't even six degrees from his favorite actor. His mother-in-law was talking to a friend whose daughter-in-law is Kari Depp Howard, Johnny Depp's first cousin, about LewHorse and how Depp inspired it. Kratzer got the idea that a signature might help increase the value of the horse at the auction, which benefits LexArts and other charities. Proceeds from the sale of LewHorse will also benefit the Fayette Education Foundation and Junior Achievement of the Bluegrass.
"I said, there's no harm in checking about it," said Howard, who says her cousin gets lots of requests for endorsements and donations.
"We told him all the programs that were subsets of LexArts like the Children's Theatre and the Governor's School for the Arts, and obviously he was in favor of arts programs, so he wanted to help raise more money so kids could have those kinds of options."
Depp, whose much ballyhooed thriller The Tourist opens Dec. 10, did not come to Lexington to sign LewHorse. Depp sent Howard a large signature on 81/2-by-11 paper. She gave it to Kratzer Monday and accompanied him to Lorillard Lofts, where the horses are currently housed and can be viewed by the public this weekend. Kratzer used carbon paper to reproduce the signature on the horse between Alice and the March Hare.
"To me, the focus on children makes it even more thrilling," Kratzer says, "It is the perfect ending to a horse that had its genesis in drawings that I just loved when I was growing up."