You’ve seen it in photos, but where did that Spider-Man statue Stan Lee posed so often with in his office actually come from?

Or how about that blue Silver Surfer painting appearing behind his head whenever Stan was videotaped at his desk?

And surely you’ve spotted the large, yellow silkscreen of Stan face to face with Spidey himself?

What’s the story behind these items that appear in so many photos and videos featuring Stan?

All these items, and more, were located in Stan’s long-time office in Beverly Hills. Interviewers and photographers often wanted to feature these as backdrops for many of Stan’s video and photo appearances, and Stan was always glad to accommodate.

Stan Lee in a green sweater posing next to his Spider-Man pinball machine in his office smiling at the camera
Photo by Michelle Faraone McCallum

One of the items that was with Stan the longest was the Spider-Man pinball machine, manufactured by D. Gottlieb & Co., a Columbia Pictures Industries Company, in 1980. Though made in 1980, the machine featured Spider-Man art and characters from the late 1960s (predominantly John Romita art, for those who are interested). Not only did Stan like to pose beside it for photos and videos, but it also made for a great surface to sign countless numbers of posters on. The pinball machine traveled with Stan from office to office, in fact seven offices in total: his offices in Van Nuys, Westwood (two offices, the first on Sepulveda Blvd. then afterward on the corner of Westwood and Wilshire), Century City, Encino, Santa Monica (again, two offices, both on Colorado Blvd.) and Beverly Hills. Over time, many of its parts stopped working, though they were updated and replaced from time to time. However, when the AC power cord finally shred with age, the machine was plugged in no more.

The vintage Spider-Man pinball machine that Stan had in several of his offices over the years

Two paintings dominated his office, the walls otherwise full of treasured portraits of his family, as well as such eclectic things as framed Chinese calligraphy and official “Stan Lee Day” certificates from Los Angeles and other cities. The first large painting was a silkscreen set against a yellow background. It was a photo of Stan Lee face to face with what might be his most famous character, Spider-Man. The art was created by Steve Kaufman, an artist friend of Stan’s who also happened to be a student of the famous Andy Warhol himself. Many examples of Kaufman’s art, as well as photos of him with Stan, can be seen on the website This piece was with Stan since its creation circa 1995.

Stan Lee sitting at his desk with his head resting on his hand in front of a portrait of him and Spider-Man

Photo by Michelle Faraone McCallum

The other painting was more recent, a dynamic rendering of The Silver Surfer against a bright blue background, created by talented pop artist Burton Morris. Morris was a good friend of Stan’s, and his work can be seen at  Stan sure loved his pop art, and these two artists rank among the best in the field.

Stan Lee in a tan button down shirt sitting at his desk in his office laughing
Sometimes The Silver Surfer hung behind Stan’s desk, sometimes it was the Stan and Spidey portrait. Indeed, they oftentimes switched places (other art also hung there over the years).
Stan Lee's desk with trinkets, including a Captain America bust, computer, and a blue painting of the Silver Surfer behind it
The full Silver Surfer in all his glory.

Stan also had three cork bulletin boards hung up in his office, filled with dozens of photos pinned on them that showed Stan with the many celebrities he had the pleasure of meeting over the years. This was an idea given to Stan by the late, great producer-director Garry Marshall. Marshall had a similar set up in his office, which Stan visited while doing a cameo for The Princess Diaries in the early 2000s. These three boards full of photos always made for good conversation, often as creative meetings in Stan’s office ended and the attendees had seen the wide array of celebrities which Stan had the privilege to pose with (or was that the other way around?).

2 cork boards filled with pictures of Stan Lee with celebrities in his office hanging below his Guinness World Record
How many celebrities can you spot in those pictures? And yes, that is a Guinness World Record certificate above the cork boards.

Oh? What about that Spider-Man statue, you ask? Well, that has an interesting back story. Four artists who worked with Stan before the founding of POW! Entertainment apparently came across a full size, intact Spider-Man statue from a closing amusement park in Europe. I don’t know what they paid for it, or if it was just considered trash by the closing park. These four, Aaron Sowd, Ruben Martinez, Shawn MacManus and Anthony Winn, gifted Stan the statue, and it stood in his various offices ever since the year 2000 or so. By the way, if any of the above-named artists are reading this, please feel free to comment and let us know if the story as I’ve laid it out is true or not. As Stan often said, “I’ve told this story so many times, it might actually be true!” Then get back to your drawing boards, there’s work to do!

A life-size Spider-Man statue in Stan Lee's office doing the Spider-Man thwip hand pose

Of course, this Spidey statue was a favorite for Stan to pose next to for photos. Dozens of guests to his office had photos taken with Stan by this readily available figure of Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man.

Stan Lee with his arm around the life-size Spider-Man statue, both doing the Spider-Man thwip hand pose

Stan chose his office décor to be interesting and to entertain his guests and peers whenever they met there. It is good to know that many of these images have been preserved in video and print for those who never visited Stan’s office to see for themselves.