Film fans are crazier than you think. To a lover of cinema, original film memorabilia are priceless treasures (or at the very least worthy of a $1 million dedication in their bank accounts). To own a rare pair of ruby slippers or a little black dress worn by Audrey Hepburn is everything to those with the acquired taste to appreciate such things. We’ve collated a list of 10 of the most expensive movie props and costumes ever sold at auction, bought by no other than hardcore movie lovers.
Robby the Robot
Forbidden Planet (1956)
When Robby the Robot (which first appeared in the 1956 cult classic Forbidden Planet) was sold at the Bonham’s New York auction house in 2017, it became the most expensive prop for a movie ever sold. The iconic piece of movie memorabilia made cameos in two hit television shows, The Twilight Zone and The Addams Family, making it a prized possession in the eyes of Hollywood fanatics. For those who don’t remember, the Fred M. Wilcox sci-fi flick was a big hit in its initial release, and was praised for its groundbreaking visual effects (which was nominated for the Academy Award in its category). The film starred Walter Pidgeon, Anne Francis, and Leslie Neilson.
James Bond’s Aston Martin DB5
When one thinks of classic Aston Martins, it is easy to picture Sean Connery as 007 Agent James Bond driving through the winding roads of the Swiss Alps in 1964’s Goldfinger. His Aston Martin model DB5 became so iconic that many people were eager to get their hands on a model back in the mid-1960s. The actual car used in both Goldfinger and Bond’s third spy outing Thunderball (1965) was eventually sold at auction for a whopping price tag of $4.6 million! It was one of two cars made for the films, and was fitted with cool Bond gadgets such as tail light guns and roating plate numbers.
Marilyn Monroe’s White Cocktail Dress
The Seven Year Itch (1955)
The scene of Marilyn Monroe walking over a subway grate in New York City while wearing a white cocktail dress by William Travilla is now one of the most famous images in pop culture. Directed by Oscar winning director Billy Wilder for 20th Century Fox, the scene was set to shoot at New York City’s Trans-Loux station on September 1954. With Marilyn’s presence, crowds gathered to watch, causing Wilder to cancel production without getting the perfect shot. He re-created the scene in a studio lot back in Hollywood. Marilyn’s husband at the time, baseball legend Joe DiMaggio, was said to have hated the white cocktail dress with a plunging neckline. That didn’t stop one collector for spending a record breaking $4.6 million in auction, the most expensive ever paid for a Hollywood film costume.
The Maltese Falcon
The Maltese Falcon (1941)
The statue known as The Maltese Falcon, used in the 1941 John Huston-directed film noir of the same name was sold at a Bonhams New York auction for $4.1 million in 2013. Additionally, it included a buyer’s premium of $585,000. The movie starred Humphrey Bogart as detective Sam Spade, who is investigating the loss of the valuable statue after being commissioned by a mysterious, secretive woman (played by Mary Astor). The iconic piece of film memorabilia was the original prop used in the film. Although the buyer had spent a pretty penny on this Maltese Falcon, many have come forward claiming the originality of their statuettes. Funny how life imitates art, as the Falcon has become just as valuable as one portrayed in the 1940s hit movie. It was owned by an undisclosed collector who originally purchased the statue at a private sale during the 1980s.
Audrey Hepburn’s Ascot Dress
My Fair Lady (1964)
Costume designer Cecil Beaton reached his magnum opus with his work on the Academy Award winning 1964 film My Fair Lady starring Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison. In a long line of iconic costumes worn by the actress in the classic movie musical, the grandest was Eliza Doolittle’s black and white Ascot costume with matching hat. Based Pygmalion, Henry Higgins (Harrison) tries to pass off a penniless flower girl as a duchess (Hepburn). This gown was worn by Hepburn during her first brush with London’s high society. Beaton, who did all the design related work on the film, cleverly married the entire Ascot scene theme to match Hepburn’s gown. It resulted to a remarkable scene that is one of the most remembered in the film. The dress was also selected to appear in every promotional still photograph and sketch for the Best Picture winner. By the time it was auctioned off, a collector bid $3.7 million and won!
The Cowardly Lion Costume
The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Surprisingly, character actor Burt Lahr’s Cowardly Lion costume from The Wizard of Oz (1939) garnered a prettier penny than Judy Garland’s famous Ruby Slippers. At auction, the costume (complete with a sculpted mask of the actor’s face) fetched a cool $3 million. Made with real lion hide (and weighing a hefty 60 pounds), Lahr was rumored to have disliked wearing the costume because it was so hot whenever he was under the harsh studio lights.
Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers
The Wizard of Oz (1939)
The iconic ruby slippers (made out of mere sequin…and a lot of film magic) from the Wizard of Oz is not without its drama. Designed by MGM’s Chief Costume Designer Gilbert Adrian for the 1939 motion picture, it is rumored that at least seven slippers exist, yet only a few are accounted for. One was found in a dusty MGM storage facility by a Kent Warner. He sold it to actress Debbie Reynolds, who at the time was prepping to open a museum with memorabilia from Hollywood’s Golden Age. Reynolds eventually sold it at auction in 1979 to a collector for $15,000, who donated it to the Smithsonian Museum. Over the years, the price of the elusive Ruby Slippers only rose in value. Another pair, owned by Michael Shaw, was stolen after he lent it to the Minnesota Museum (he is offering a $1 million reward to anybody who can bring the slippers back home to him). In 2012, the most important pair, dubbed the “beauty pair” (used for close-up shots) was sold at auction by Philip Samuels for $2 million (he originally bought it in 1988 for $180,000). Arguably the most important pair of ruby slippers, there is a tag that reads JUDY GARLAND #7 in pencil, meaning the pair was bespoke made for the actress. The red soles also indicate that these were the pair used for the famous heel-clicking scene.
The Do-Re-Mi Outfits
The Sound of Music (1965)
The Sound of Music is instilled in most movie goer’s memories as the essential family movie of the century. The popularity of the story of Maria, the Captain von Trapp, and his seven children is known worldwide, and it has become one of the highest grossing films of all time. Julia Andrews plays real life cultural figure Maria, a mischievous nun who is sent from her convent to take care of the children of the cold Captain von Trapp (Christopher Plummer). As Maria teaches the children music, the Captain begins to fall for her. The Rogers and Hammerstein musical is still so popular today that many tourist flock to Austria every year just to catch a glimpse of the film’s shooting locations. The film’s popularity has also made props used in it to be highly valuable. The garments worn by Andrews and the children during the iconic Do-Re-Mi scene sold at a 2014 auction at $1.56 million!
Steve McQueen’s Racing Suit
Le Mans (1971)
Actor Steve McQueen was known as “one of the coolest guys in the world” during the height of his film career. By the late 1960s, he developed a persona as a sleek, car-loving gentleman ready for life on the fast lane. He appeared in Le Mans, the racing movie that is now a certified cult classic. The 1971 picture spawned the interest of every car and cinema lover. His racing jumpsuit, made by Hinchman in Indianapolis has Michael Delaney (his character’s name) embroidered on its pockets. Other logos embroidered on the suit include the American Flag, and the logos of Hueuer, Firestone, and Gulf. Eventually, the costume became one of the most sought after sports and film memorabilia from its time. It sold at auction for almost a million dollars.
Audrey Hepburn’s Little Black Givenchy Dress
Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)
Breakfast at Tiffany’s became truly iconic when the film first premiered in 1961. Till this day, style lovers have cited the black Givenchy dress she wore in the opening scene as a turning point in modern women’s fashion. Sleek and made out of satin, the tight black gown was to be playgirl Holly Golightly’s signature piece in the Truman Capote film adaption. If you have a sharp eye, you will notice that the dress is worn four times throughout the picture, although matched with different accessories to give it a whole new look. When the actress died died in 1993, the fashion designer donated it to the City of Joy Aid Charity to support Hepburn’s efforts for helping disadvantaged children. The fashion world went abuzz, and the gown was sold to the highest bidder at Christie’s for approximately $900,00.