The Brigitte Bardot treasure that turned up in an auction


The show will be in Malaga until 6 June. / Ñito Salas

  • hidden treasure

  • La Térmica is showing a collection of previously unseen photos of the actress filming The Jewellers of the Moonlight in Malaga province, which were bought at a French auction by José Luis Cabrera; the original owner later regretted selling

Hecame across it with a click of the mouse and his expert eye recognised not just the face, but also the background. It was Brigitte Bardot in a striking Andalusian setting which just had to be Malaga. It was the filming of The Jewellers of the Moonlight' (1957), one of those foreign films that found an easy passport to post-war Spain when the Franco regime wanted to show the world its apparent openness. The whole history of this film, as well as the iconic BB, was there on a French auction website, as a series of 400 photos which were taken at the time. José Luis Cabrero didn't hesitate to snap it up. Now, that unexpected treasure has been digitalised, restored, enlarged and studied and has ended up in the exhibition called Brigitte Bardot, Mito y Clichés en Málaga, (Myth and Clichés in Malaga) which is now on at La Térmica. It is a chance to see the Torremolinos of old, in glorious black and white.

"The pictures belonged to a French collector and when I saw them, I knew this was a great opportunity because the price didn't compare with their value," said José Luis, who is the co-creator of the Torremolinos Chic website, at the opening of the exhibition. He said the person who sold the collection denied afterwards that it was he who had done so, "maybe because he doesn't want it to be known that they are no longer in France".

He was reluctant at first to reveal how much he paid for this valuable acquisition, but finally admitted that it was over 1,000 euros. It is a lot of money, but when you see the collection, you realise it was actually a real bargain.

The display, which will continue until June, is a mixture of glamour, fascination, innocence and nostalgia, showing images of Bardot getting off the train at El Pinillo (near Arroyo de la Miel), walking with a script in her hand with film director and her then partner Roger Vadim, posing in a bra in a scene which does not try to hide its eroticism and the film's intention to be provocative (it was censored in Spain), and at El Chorro with Stephen Boyd (Mesala in Ben Hur) and the famous little donkey Romeo, which 'BB' loved so much that she took it to the cottage she was renting in La Carihuela and let it sleep on her bed.

Brigitte Bardot, getting out of the swimming pool at El Remo club in La Carihuela.

Brigitte Bardot, getting out of the swimming pool at El Remo club in La Carihuela. / Ñito Salas

Also off the set

The film The Jewellers of the Moonlight was not outstanding in quality but it brought an icon of "beauty, freedom and controversy" to a Malaga which was still only just becoming known as the Costa del Sol, and a collection of photos which, with the passing of time and because of their quality, have acquired artistic value.

"The film tried to bring out the most atavistic and antiquated part of the country, showing a region which was almost feudal, which is what foreign creators wanted to find in Spain at that time. They wanted to portray that image, that was inherited from the 19th century, says José Luis.

The exhibition also shows photos of the inevitable scene of the star fighting a young bull in Mijas bullring. This is particularly striking, "bearing in mind how anti-bullfighting Brigitte Bardot has been", he points out.

In the total of 61 photos and 27 other items in the display, including magazines, books, postcards and four sheets of original pictures, Vadim's film is not just the protagonist, as photographer Jorge Dragón pointed out at the inauguration. This piece of photographic history which can now be seen in public for the first time "also shows what we don't see on-screen", he explained, like the legendary actress in the swimming pool at Club el Remo, and chatting, surrounded by children, in La Carihuela.

Bardot seems comfortable in these photos.

Bardot seems comfortable in these photos. / Ñ. Salas

Also at the opening were writer Alfredo Taján; the director of La Térmica, Salomón Castiel; and the president of the Malaga provincial government, Francisco Salado, who were all interested in the photos which had been taken off set, such as the series which portrays Bardot with two dancers, wearing a Cordoban hat and learning to play the castanets on the terrace of the Playa Montemar hotel, which was owned by Viscount Llanteno.

The images show a Torremolinos of little white houses and are obviously aimed to be artistic, although paradoxically we don't know who took them. In fact, it is believed that six photographers could have taken these 400 pictures in the collection, and one was probably Yves Mirkine, who was French but of Ukrainian origin.

The photos were originally miniatures measuring 6x6 cm, and were more than 60 years old. Now they are making a big impact on the walls at La Térmica, for everyone to enjoy.