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Titanic to Star Wars : Most Expensive Movie Memorabilia Ever Sold

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Movies can transport us to unknown worlds with their larger-than-life stories. To recreate worlds that exist and also bring fantasy elements to life for the screen, props are used in costumes, production design, and other areas, enhancing the storytelling experience. While wielding the force may be a fictional idea, owning a lightsaber from Star Wars can connect you to the cinematic universe in a surreal way. Over the years, several movie props have caught the fancy of fans who have paid handsomely to collect them. Let’s take a look at the most expensive movie memorabilia ever sold.

Once a movie or a franchise becomes a part of the pop culture zeitgeist, every element related to it, be it the music, its writing and dialogues, or its merchandise attains a cult status. Much like valuable art collections, there are also fans of cinema who collect movie props. These pieces of memorabilia are known to fetch high prices at auctions. Some of the most famous items that have made astonishing sales in the past include Audrey Hepburn’s ascot dress from My Fair Lady and the piano from Casablanca. From Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters and franchises, here are the most expensive movie props ever sold.

Most expensive movie props ever sold at an auction

Darth Vader’s helmet from The Empire Strikes Back

Price: USD 898,420.

Most expensive movie memorabilia
Darth Vader’s helmet from The Empire Strikes Back sold at jaw-dropping amount at an auction. (Image: IMDb)

Star Wars: Episode V. The Empire Strikes Back is considered to be one of the best films of the franchise. A pivotal moment in the film is when Darth Vader reveals to Luke Skywalker that he is his father. The iconic helmet worn by actor David Prowse as Darth Vader in the movie was put up for auction in 2019, and unsurprisingly also fetched an astonishing price. An unknown movie fan paid nearly a million for the prop, and it was sold for USD 898,420. Considering Darth Vader’s status as one of the deadliest villains in cinematic History, the helmet worn in the movie makes for a collectible item truly worth flaunting.

Audrey Hepburn’s dress from My Fair Lady

Price: USD 3.7 million

Audrey Hepburn dress auction
Audrey Hepburn’s costumes in My Fair Lady won an Oscar for the costume department. (Image: NYU Steinhardt Costume Studies/Instagram)

Costumes are a key part of storytelling in movies and help to shape the character’s personality. In the case of someone as gorgeous as Audrey Hepburn, when she appears wearing the elegant black and white gown in My Fair Lady, it is an unforgettable cinematic moment. Hepburn’s chic dress, which was designed by Cecil Beaton, is a signature piece of movie memorabilia that was auctioned at a high price in 2011. The stunning gown was sold for a whopping USD 3.7 million, becoming one of the most expensive movie props ever sold at the time. Beaton also won the Oscar for Best Costume Design for the 1964 movie which featured the iconic dress. The lace gown famously appears during a scene in which Hepburn’s Eliza Doolittle attends the Royal Ascot.

The James Bond car

Price: USD 2.4 million.

James Bond is undoubtedly one of the most stylish movie characters of all time. The British spy is known to possess smart gadgets and flaunt a fleet of fancy cars, which he utilises while undertaking deadly missions. The stylish undercover agent has been played by several actors over the years including Sean Connery who appeared as the 007 agent in seven films. Giving fans a rare chance to have a brush of the Bond magic in real life, a car personally owned by Connery and the one that featured in his film Goldfinger was put up for auction in 2022. The silver Aston Martin DB5, which famously came to be known as the “Bond car”, was sold for USD 2.4 million.

Fetching a price well beyond its estimate, an unknown buyer added this signature piece from the James Bond franchise to their private car collection. Amid the news of Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s potential Bond casting, we have to wonder what other classic Aston Martin models might feature in the upcoming film.

Marilyn Monroe’s iconic cocktail dress

Price: USD 4.6 million

Marilyn Monroe was the personification of Hollywood glamour and served many iconic fashion moments during her time. From her mesmerising on-screen charm to her striking off-screen looks, Monroe earned her Hollywood diva status through her fashion. Among the many notable outfits worn by the yesteryear star, her white “subway” dress from The Seven Year Itch became particularly famous and was incredibly sought-after at an auction in 2011.

The iconic dress featured in the movie’s infamous scene, where Monroe stood over a subway grate, her dress fluttering delicately in the air. It was a cinematic moment that made History, and decades later, the dress’ extravagant sale for a price of USD 4.6 million also became a notable moment.

Casablanca’s million-dollar movie prop

Price: USD 3.4 million

Expensive movie props Casablanca piano
The piano in Hollywood classic Casablanca sold for USD 3.4 million. (Image: Bonhams)

Casablanca (1942) is a Hollywood classic that features on the lists of several movie fans as a landmark piece of work. One of the film’s crucial props is the Steinway grand piano that is played by Sam (Dooley Wilson) in several key scenes. In a popular exchange in the film, the lead star Ingrid Bergman enthusiastically quips, “Play it, Sam”, referring to the beautiful instrument. Like several other memorabilia items from the movie, the piano also hit the market at a 2014 auction and was sold within record time. Given the film’s legendary status, as well as it being a timeless Steinway model, the piano was sold for USD 3.4 million at a Bonhams auction.

The Wizard of Oz ruby slippers

Price: USD 660,000

In terms of pop culture collectibles, the dazzling ruby slippers worn by protagonist Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz movie are among the top most expensive movie props ever sold. The popular pair, seen in the 1939 film, were worn by actress Judy Garland and went up for auction in 2000. Fetching a jaw-dropping price of USD 660,000, the ruby slippers are among the most coveted movie memorabilia items in cinematic history. Apart from being a part of one of the most iconic Hollywood films, the shoes are also crucial to the story as a meaningful item that represents hope, making it even more valuable.

Another item from the same film that was also auctioned in the past includes the Cowardly Lion costume. The outfit was sold for over USD 3 million at an auction, but it stirred a major controversy. The costume was reportedly constructed using real lion skin and fur, and hence was widely discussed, raising concerns over animal cruelty in the Entertainment industry.

Star Wars’ expensive movie prop — The R2-D2 droid

Price: 2.76 million

The Star Wars universe is replete with space-themed memorabilia and among them, the popularity of props such as lightsabers and droids has been particularly high. One of the most famous recurring characters in the franchise is the R2-D2 droid, a 43-inch tall unit composed of parts used throughout the filming of the original trilogy.

For ardent fans of the franchise, movie props like R2-D2 are a physical manifestation of the fantasy world they love, and hence a worthy addition to their personal collections. Back in 2017, the auction house Profiles in History put up the iconic droid for sale, and the coveted movie prop eventually went for a whopping USD 2.76 million, thus making it one of the most expensive pieces of movie memorabilia ever sold.

Aragorn’s sword from The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King

Price: USD 437,000

Most expensive movie props LOTR
One of the most coveted movie props from the Lord of the Rings movie franchise is Aragorn’s sword. (Image: IMDb)

The detailing behind every prop used in The Lord of the Rings franchise makes them a collector’s dream, and hence, several items from the fantasy films have fetched big sums at auctions. One of the most coveted movie props from the trilogy is Aragorn’s (Viggo Mortensen) sword, which is named Andúril in the books and films. The sword appears in The Return of the King and features beautifully intricate inscriptions along with a leather grip. At a Bonhams auction in 2014, the LOTR sword was sold for USD 437,000. Considering Aragorn’s place as a beloved character in the movie franchise as well as in the books, it’s no surprise that the sword fetched such an astounding amount at the auction.

Titanics most controversial movie prop

Price: USD 718,750

Most expensive movie props ever sold
The iconic door that helped Rose survive in Titanic was sold at an auction. (Image: IMDb)

If there’s one debate that Titanic fans still aren’t able to settle, it’s whether Leonardo DiCaprio‘s Jack Dawson would have survived had Rose (Kate Winslet) made space for him on the floating door. The heartbreaking climax of the film and Jack’s sacrifice surprisingly turned the “floating door” from the climax of the movie into a coveted movie prop. Interestingly, it is also the unlikely prop that avid movie memorabilia collectors were ready to splurge on when it was put up for auction. In an astounding sale, the movie prop that has left every fan divided fetched a staggering USD 718,750. The prop, which was carved out of balsa wood, was purchased by an unknown buyer and is one of the most expensive movie props sold from the James Cameron film.

Steve McQueen’s iconic racing suit from Le Mans

Price: USD 425,000

One of Steve McQueen’s most recognisable costumes, the off-white racing suit was among a group of other models designed for the film. Le Mans became a cult classic for car enthusiasts after its release, and the image of McQueen in the racing suit reached iconic status. The actor was also famously quoted as saying, “I’m not sure whether I’m an actor who races or a racer who acts,” as he spoke about his passion for motorsports, further adding value to the racing suit. At a 2015 auction held by Bonhams, the cream-coloured racing suit, which featured the American flag and other detailing was sold for USD 425,000. While the movie did not fare well at the box office, its cult appeal made the costume a must-have collectible.

Robby the Robot from Forbidden Planet

Price: USD 5.3 million

Robby the Robot most expensive movie memorabilia
Robby the Robot is one of the most expensive movie memorabilia items sold at an auction. (Image: Bonhams)

Long before Science-fiction as a genre found solid ground in Hollywood, Forbidden Planet began by paving the way for it to happen. Considered to be an iconic Science fiction movie of all time, the movie featured a unique robot designed by Robert Kinoshita. The movie prop, named Robby the Robot, is one of the most valuable movie props ever sold at auction. Having appeared in not only Forbidden Planet but also other films and television shows from the time, the robot is also one of the oldest sci-fi props in Hollywood. Given its special status as a rare sci-fi item from the 1950s, it was sold in 2013 for a staggering amount of USD 5.3 million at an auction, making it the most expensive movie memorabilia ever sold at auction.

(Main and featured images: Marilyn Monroe/Instagram; Star Wars/Instagram)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

– What is the most valuable movie memorabilia?

The robot built for Forbidden Planet, which is one of the earliest science fiction movies of Hollywood, was sold at an auction for USD 5.3 million. The staggering price it fetched has made it the most expensive piece of movie memorabilia ever sold.

– What is the most expensive prop designed for a movie?

As per reports, the pirate ship in Roman Polanski’s 1986 film Pirates cost USD 8 million to construct.

– How much did Darth Vader’s helmet sell for?

The iconic Darth Vader helmet worn in The Empire Strikes Back was sold for USD 898,420 at an auction, making it one of the most expensive movie memorabilia ever sold.

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