The Seven Year Itch (1955) – Marilyn Monroe’s White Dress: $4.6M
The image captured in “The Seven Year Itch” is as famous as the Hollywood sign itself. And now, Marilyn Monroe’s white dress holds the world record for a most expensive movie prop. In “The Seven Year Itch,” directed by Billy Wilder, the billowing dress scene is one of the defining images of the 20th century.
The celebrated halter dress had been held at the Debbie Reynolds Collection for 40 years. Estimates of $2 million were smashed as the iconic white dress sold for $5.6 million at the Beverly Hills Profiles in History auction in 2011. Prior to that, the dress belonged to the designer, William Travilla.
‘The Subway Dress’
Costume designer William Travilla worked with Monroe frequently, designing her wardrobe in eight films. The white cocktail dress the actress wore in “The Seven Year Itch” on a date with Richard (Tom Ewell) takes center stage as the couple leaves the movie theater after watching a horror movie. Monroe, credited as “The Girl,” says, “Ooh, do you feel the breeze from the subway?” Just then, the wind blows her skirt around her.
Filming the scene took three hours and 14 takes. It was shot in N.Y.C. at 1 a.m. to avoid crowds, but 5,000 people showed up anyway. Each time the subway barreled by underneath, the dress flared. She wore special white shorts.
Casablanca (1942) – Sam’s Piano $3.4M
The miniature piano used in “Casablanca” holds a lot of sentimental value. Humphrey Bogart (Rick) hides important letters that may aid his escape from Morocco inside of it. But the sentimental feelings also arise from the sound of it being played. “As Time Goes By,” performed by band leader Dooley Wilson (Sam), brings back memories. However, the piano was not actually played in the film. Instead, Wilson’s keyboard compositions were dubbed in.
The small-scale piano with fewer keys than a standard instrument went for $3.4 million at the 2014 Bonhams “There’s No Place Like Hollywood” auction in New York.
Sam’s 58 Key Piano
In “Casablanca,” the piano is the centerpiece of Rick’s fictional Café Américain. The instrument has 58 keys, and it came with a piece of petrified chewing gum under the keyboard. Ingrid Bergman also starred in Hollywood classics.
The beautiful golden-era actress plays Ilsa, opposite leading man Bogart. She famously urges Sam to play “As Time Goes By” on the painted upright piano. The letters of transit Rick hid in the piano were also sold at the Bonham auction. They went for $115,000.
Back to the Future trilogy (1985-90) – DeLorean Time Machine: $541K
All in all, seven DeLorean supercars were procured for “Back to the Future.” One of those DMC-12 models went to the auction block and sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars beyond its normal street value of about $30,000. This particular model was used in the third movie of the franchise.
Marty McFly first discovers Doc’s remote-controlled time travel machine at the Twin Pines Mall parking lot. The plutonium-powered invention with giant cooling vents protruding from the rear end was designed on a 1981 DeLorean. It’s heartwarming to know that some of the proceeds went to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. The “Back to the Future” DeLorean sold for $541,000 in 2011.
The DeLorean Time Machine
The “Back to the Future” car is equipped with a flux capacitor. It is the feature that enables time travel, and this particular flux capacitator was used throughout the trilogy.
However, exclusively by the stunt man. Of the seven modified DeLorean DMCs, one is on display in Los Angeles at the Petersen Automotive Museum, and another is at Universal Studios in Orlando.
Le Mans (1971) – Monaco Watch: $2.208M
This is the wristwatch Steve McQueen wore in “Le Mans,” playing 24 Hours of Le Man’s racer Michael Delaney. Monaco was made by TAG Heuer. The cutting-edge timepiece was originally introduced at the 1969 Monaco Grand Prix.
The watch is not only highly valued because Steve McQueen wore it, but also because he personally chose the Heuer.
The Heuer Monaco Watch
Original Monaco was the first automatic wristwatch and the first square watch face. Because of its enduring popularity, the style McQueen wore is still in production. This Monaco sold at an online auction by Phillips out of New York for $2,208,000 in 2020.
It was one of several watches used while filming “Le Mans.” The record for one of these watches was previously held at $799,500 in 2012.
Titanic (1997) – Dress: $330K
The dress that Kate Winslet wore in “Titanic” is an exquisite piece of memorabilia. It sold at auction for $30,000 more than it previously went for. Rose’s crimson red chiffon evening gown is featured in the dramatic scene where Rose and Jack meet for the first time.
It’s referred to as the “jump dress” because Jack prevents Rose from jumping overboard. It sold for $330,000 at a Los Angeles auction called The Hollywood Auction by Profiles in History in 2012.
Kate’s Jump Dress
The winning auction bid was rather steep compared with prop costume prices. But the Jump Dress is worth it. Director James Cameron insisted on historically accurate production pieces. Costume designer Deborah L. Scott meticulously fashioned the period dress.
It was intricately beaded with handsewn chiffon pleating and required more than 1,000 hours to sew. Officially, the dress, the only one that exists, is called the “Rose at the Rail” dress. It comes with a certificate of its exclusive authenticity by 20th Century Fox.
Dr. No (1962) – Pistol: $256K
The pistol manned by Sean Connery’s 007 in “Dr. No” made a big impression. In the grip of the original James Bond, in the first film of the epic franchise, it became one of cinema’s most recognizable images.
The weapon sold beyond price expectations of $150 to $200,000, it is believed, because the star passed just two months prior to the auction. The gun was sold at a Beverly Hills auction for $256,00 on December 3, 2020.
The Walther PP Pistol
The Walther PP Pistol went on the block at Julien’s Auctions in 2020 at its “Icons & Idols: Hollywood” event. Other items featured included Tom Cruise’s fighter pilot helmet in “Top Gun” and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s leather jacket in “Terminator.”
The 007 hero pistol is a decommissioned semi-automatic handgun. The German-made Walther pistol was a staple of every Bond movie. The winning bidder was a longtime 007 fan.
Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977) – T.I.E. Fighter: $402.5K
The Twin Ion Engine (T.I.E.) Starfighter was manned by Luke Skywalker in Episode IV in, arguably, the film’s most important scene. Skywalker (Mark Hamill) swipes out Darth Vader’s fighter and then swoops in to take out the Death Star for the climactic ending. This is the model that was actually used in filming.
Auctioning at nearly half a million dollars, one would expect a full-scale model. The reality is, this model is only 18” by 14”, smaller than your average bed pillow. The T.I.E. Starfighter sold for $402,500 in 2008.
The T.I.E. Starfighter
The Starfighter is a significant remnant from the set of “Star Wars.” It was designed by Oscar-winning visual effects pro Richard Edlund. It is one of four fighters built for the movie. In fact, the model that was auctioned is the one that collided with Darth Vader’s ship.
The evidence is observable at the corner of the wing. Its inner ball is made of aluminum with metal sheeting used for the hexagonal wings. In fact, the model that was auctioned is the one that collided with Darth Vader’s ship.
Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977) – Lightsaber: $450K
Believe it or not, Ripley won the bid for Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber. It is his light-blue-bladed saber and the first one he ever used. It was given to him by Obi-Wan Kenobi. Mark Hamill once wielded this particular model in “The Empire Strikes Back.”
It had been from the private collection of film producer Gary Kurtz, producer of the first two Star Wars movies. It went on the block shortly after he died in 2018. The lightsaber sold for $450,000 in 2019.
Luke Skywalker’s Lightsaber
It was constructed from a 1930s Graflex flash tube, a tube that is part of an old-fashioned film camera’s flash mechanism and the camera’s handle. Sci-fi-effect buttons and gadgetry were applied with glue. It came to life with a blue beam of light. However, this one no longer works.
On the upside, anyone can see the famous prop at Ripley’s Believe It or Not! museum in Hollywood. For far-flung Star Wars fans, Ripley’s displays it on YouTube.
Forbidden Planet (1956) – Robby the Robot: $5.3M
In 2017, Robby the Robot hit a world record, becoming the priciest movie prop ever. At the time, it outsold the Maltese Falcon figurine and Marilyn Monroe’s famous dress by a million dollars.
The 7-foot-tall robot from MGM’s “Forbidden Planet” is one of science fiction’s most treasured movies. This marked the first sci-fi movie set entirely on a fictional planet.
Robby the Robot
The robot was an expensive prop. It cost MGM $125,000 to build it during the days it cost $25,000 to purchase an upscale three-bedroom home. It was a complex machine that left in the dust previous clunky bots.
All of the parts were made in MGM’s prop shop. Constructed of metal, plastic, and glass, it has a glass dome for a head and functional limbs. It was Professor Morbius’ servant and constant companion.
The Wizard of Oz (1939) – Dorothy’s Dress: $1.56M
Dorothy Gale’s darling gingham pinafore is one of the most recognizable costumes in showbiz. It was a blue and white bodice pinafore with straps from front to back secured with mother-of-pearl buttons. An off-white blouse with puff sleeves finishes the costume that went under the gavel at the Profiles in History auction.
Judy Garland was 16 years old when she wore this dress in the movie. “The Wizard of Oz” dress sold at Bonhams in N.Y.C. for $1.5 million in 2015.
Garland wore this dress in the transition from sepia-colored Kansas to technicolor Oz. The filming technique that brought the vivid land of Oz to life made it the most famous color movie of its day. It wasn’t the first color movie, but the contrast of black and white to color cleverly captures the dreariness of L. Frank Baum’s descriptions of Kansas in his novel, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.”
The only thing more iconic than the dress is Dorothy’s ruby slippers.
The Wizard of Oz (1939) – Ruby Slippers: $2M
In Baum’s depiction of Oz Dorothy’s slippers, the pair she recovered from the wicked witch killed by her house was silver. It seems almost heretical that they should be silver, but we have to agree that in the colorful land of Oz, no color except red would do.
Today, the ruby slippers are the cream of the crop of movie memorabilia, one of the most valued in cinema history.
The Wizard of Oz (1939) – Cowardly Lion Costume: $3.1M
Dorothy’s pal, the Cowardly Lion, has a special place in many hearts. But what most fans do not know is that the costumed actor Bert Lahr wore a lion of a costume. It weighed 60 pounds and was made from a lion’s pelt, real lion hair, and skin! A PETA atrocity, we hear the collective roar. Even the tail was real.
Needless to say, it was miserably uncomfortable. It was also unbearably hot. The mask precluded any eating. This actor could have used some workplace protections. It was a different time.
Cowardly Lion Costume
The costume fell into the hands of a “Wizard of Oz” crew member. He thought it would make a great Halloween costume. It was thrown into a bag and sat decaying in an attic. Years later, it deteriorated so much it took 21 experts two years to restore it.
Cara Varnell, textile conservation at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, led the project. The lion costume auctioned at Bonhams for $3,077,000 in 2014; it went for a million dollars more than the ruby slippers. The Cowardly Lion costume was one of two used in the MGM movie.
Blade Runner (1982) – Blaster Gun: $270K
Harrison Ford’s Blaster gun from “Blade Runner” was expected to fetch between $100-150,000. Its actual selling price of $270K almost doubled estimates.
The weapon was used by Ford in Ridley Scott’s epic cult classic sci-fi. The Blade Runner employs the Blaster to take out “replicants,” futuristic humanoids intent on sabotaging humanity. The handgun was sold in 2012 at the Profiles in History auction. Private collector and television producer Dan Lanigan won the bid.
The Blaster is also known as the LAPD 2019 Blaster or the PKD. It was created by prop manager Terry Lewis with specifications by Ridley Scott. Lewis had it built by a gunsmith who assembled a hybrid gun from the Steyr Mannlicher Model rifle and the Carter Arms Bulldog revolver.
Renowned Hollywood gunsmith Branko Wolfheart is credited for engineering the realistic-looking prop that we know as Blade Runner Decker’s trusty Blaster.
Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991) – T-800 Robot: $488.75K
The chrome endoskeleton T-800 robot from the opening shots of “Terminator 2” sold for almost $500,000 at a Calabasas auction house in 2007.
An anonymous bidder via telephone offered more than four times the bid estimates. The legendary sci-fi robot was set to bid at $100,000. The T-800 sold for $488,750 at the Profiles in History auction in December of 2007.
The T-800 Endoskeleton
The Terminator robot is one of the most recognizable bundles of metal and circuitry are known to the big screen. Few sci-fi movie props are more sought-after. Director James Cameron tapped Stan Winston Studio, his longtime collaborator, to design the T-800.
Made mostly of chrome-finished resin, movements are partially controlled by cable-controlled puppets. The eyes light up in red and are wired to a hidden switch.
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) – Fedora $524K
One of the most famous fedoras in all of Hollywood, or at least the most ragged. It came to the film in new condition, so the designer said to give it the worn look; a lot of sitting on it, wringing, and treating it with dust and bleach was required.
The buyer of this very special prop famously donned by Harrison Ford stayed anonymous. The Indiana Jones fedora sold in 2018 for $524,000 by the Prop Store.
The legendary Indiana Jones hat recognized worldwide by practically anyone was designed by Deborah Nadoolman Landis. She collaborated with Steven Spielberg and George Lucas to conceive the Indiana Jones look.
The hat that sold for over half of a million dollars has an added value. The inner headband, made of rabbit felt, is signed by the actor.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) – Black Dress: $807K
French fashion house founder Hubert de Givenchy styled the now-iconic black dress for Audrey Hepburn, and he designed it specifically for the opening sequence of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” based on Truman Capote’s 1958 novella.
Stepping out of a yellow N.Y.C. cab in the black evening gown, Hepburn as Holly Golightly is the picture of glamour. Her dainty frame and sophisticated poise set off by a pair of chic sunglasses are softened by her naïve charm. “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” thus opens with Hepburn gazing into the plate-glass window of her favorite shop while nibbling her breakfast.
The Little Black Dress
The original little black dress was auctioned in 2006 for $807,000. Sold from Givenchy’s private collection, all proceeds went to the City of Joy charity to aid impoverished children in India.
Givenchy’s friend Dominic Lapierre runs the charity, and he said, “There are tears in my eyes. I am absolutely dumbfounded to believe that a piece of cloth with belonged to such a magical actress will now enable me to buy bricks and cement to put the destitute children in the world into schools.”
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968) – Flying Car $805K
None of the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang flying cars from the movie could really fly. As shocking and disappointing as that is, one of the flying cars could drive, and that one sold at auction. The world-famous Chitty Chitty Bang Bang car from the delightful children’s fantasy film starred Dick Van Dyke as inventor, driver, and pilot.
Though a $1 to $2 million bid was expected, the car sold for $805,000 in 2011. Film director Peter Jackson won the bid.
The Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Car
The famous flying car is a vintage race car that comes from the book “Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang: The Magical Car.” The film version prop car was conceived by production designer Ken Adam and built by Alan Mann Racing in 1967.
The one that sold in 2011 has a three-liter V6 engine under a polished aluminum bonnet. The dashboard was made from a WWI fighter plane, and the back end is of hand-polished cedar.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) – Original Script: $846.619K
Audrey Hepburn’s original working script containing handwritten notes by the actress went on the auction block. The screenplay is from the actress’ personal collection and is dated August 3, 1960. The prized document was estimated to bring in about $121,000.
Tiffany & Co. won the bid, fittingly bringing part of the movie history back where it started. It was auctioned at Christie’s London for $846,619. The script was part of The Personal Collection of Audrey Hepburn sale.
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005) – Lightsaber – $166K
The lightsaber wielded by Ewan McGregor’s Obi-Wan Kenobi in “Star Wars Episode III” is a more recent item of movie nostalgia to hit the auction block.
The famous prop was featured in the 2005 film during the epic battle between Obi-Wan and Darth Vader. The Prop Store sold it for $166,200 in 2020.
The Hero Lightsaber
Obi-Wan Kenobi’s lightsaber was built by the Jedi Master once he earned his title. In real life, it is constructed of aluminum outer designs and with a metal core in the center of the saber handle. It has a mirror-silver chrome finish with the handgrip in black finish. This prop weapon shows some signs of wear with light scratches on the chrome finish.
This lightsaber was put on auction by its former owner, stunt coordinator, and sword master Nick Gillard. Star Wars producers gifted it to the celebrated stuntman at the conclusion of the prequel trilogy.
Le Mans (1971) – Racing Suit: $984K
“Le Mans” was a passion project for Steve McQueen. At the peak of his popularity, the King of Cool starred in the movie that portrayed the 1970 Le Mans racer, Michael Delaney. Found footage of the 1970 race was used, and great lengths went into making it a realistic film. Yet, “Le Mans” flopped at the box office.
Nevertheless, it went on to be a cult classic making McQueen’s racing suit and helmet a prized bit of movie memorabilia. The racing suit and Bell helmet went for $984,000 at the 2011 Profiles in History auction.
Steve McQueen’s Racing Suit
The 2011 auction estimated the racing suit and helmet to fall between $200,000 and $300,000. Tripling bid expectations, the suit raked in almost $1 million. At the Profiles in History auction, Steve McQueen’s “Le Mans” race car, a Porsche 917, was also sold at auction for $1.25 million.
The suit had been in possession of Timothy Davies, who had won it as a newspaper contest that he won when he was 12.
The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) – Lotus Esprit $997K
The Lotus Esprit is a car and submarine hybrid from the James Bond film “The Spy Who Loved Me.” It was a working submarine designed by Perry Oceanographic, and it was used in the film. Roger Moore starred as 007, but a stunt man who is a former Navy Seal navigated the high-tech 007 film prop.
It sold at a 2013 auction for $997 million. Everyone will recognize its buyer. Elon Musk snatched up the submarine car. When he discovered it is not an operational car, he vowed to upgrade it with a Tesla powertrain and make it a working land/sea hybrid.
The Sound of Music (1965) – Do-Re-Mi Costumes: $1.3M
Perhaps the most famous cast costuming of all time are the “Do-Re-Mi” play clothes the von Trapp children wore while learning the long-time favorite song. Adored nanny Maria, Julie Andrews, take the children out in the gorgeous rolling hills of Austria in the clothing she made of old curtains and teaches them the basics of singing.
The film bagged five Oscars, including Best Picture, and it launched Julie Andrew’s career. The costumes, including Maria’s dress, sold at the 2013 Hollywood Profiles in History auction for $1.3 million.
The Do-Re-Mi Play Clothes
The olive and cream outfits made of old curtains were actually made of old curtains. Costume designer Dorothy Jeakins was behind the seven von Trapp costumes. In her craft, authenticity is a priority, so she used actual curtains as the material for the Do-Re-Mi outfits. Jeakins’ dedication to costuming won her an Oscar in “The Sound of Music.”
The costume designer, Dorothy Jeakins, won an Oscar nomination for her effort on the now-classic film. Although the iconic Do-Re-Mi outfits were made from actual curtain material, they sold for $1.3 million (£976k) in 2013.
My Fair Lady (1964) –Ascot Dress $3.7M
Audrey Hepburn as Miss Doolittle in George Cukor’s Oscar-winning musical is a riot. The scene in which she wears the over-the-top Ascot dress ensemble at the Royal Ascot horse race is one of the cinema’s greatest. The delightful white and black trimmed dress was designed by eminent costume designer Cecil Beaton who was commissioned for all of the costumes in “My Fair Lady.”
He won the Oscar for his work. It was one of eight Academy Awards the film garnered. Audrey Hepburn’s Ascot dress sold for $3.7 million at the 2011 Profiles in History auction in Los Angeles.
The Ascot Dress and Hat Ensemble
The Edwardian masterpiece by Beaton was made of hand-embroidered lace and trimmed with black velvet ribbon over a silk linen undergarment. The eye-popping hat was made of the same material with the addition of an ostrich feather on the side.
The white parasol cannot be neglected; it is a key component of the Ascot ensemble. The dress came to auction from the Debbie Reynolds Collection. She paid $100,000 for it originally.
Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980) – Mask & Helmet: $900K
In the climactic crescendo of “The Empire Strikes Back,” Darth Vader stunned Luke Skywalker when he proclaimed, “I am your father.” Skywalker and the entire “Star Wars” audience shuttered in sync with Luke’s shriek, “That’s impossible!”
Darth Vader instilled fear into an entire generation. It is made apparent by the sale of the fearsome antagonist’s mask and helmet. His influence is so enduring that the original costume prop worn by David Prowse sold for $900,000 at the 2019 Profiles in History auction.
Darth Vader’s Mask
Called “the Holy Grail of science fiction artifacts” by the auction house, it’s also exceptionally rare. Estimates set at $250,000 to $450,000 seemed high, but they were significantly lower than the winning bid of nearly $1 million.
Prowse, the actor behind the mask, portrayed the villain in the trilogy. However, Vader is voiced by James Earl Jones.
Thunderball (1965) – Aston Martin DB5: $6M
This iconic James Bond Aston Martin DB5 model did not even make an appearance in “Goldfinger” or any Bond movies for that matter, and it still sold for well over $6 million. The car was used by the Bond franchise but only for ads to promote the fourth 007 movie, “Thunderball” (1965). It is one of three existing cars commissioned by Eon productions for Bond movies.
The DB5 replica sold at the eminent 2019 Pebble Beach auction by RM Sotheby’s for $6.4 million. No word on the buyer who now owns a generous portion of cinematic history.
This Aston Martin sold in 2010 for $4.1 million. Driven by Sean Connery, it was one of two DB5s built for “Goldfinger.” These cars were fully stocked with working super spy gadgetry. The driver has at his fingertips a weapon control console that activates machine guns in the fenders, a smokescreen of fog emitted out the tailpipes, and a passenger-ejection seat.
The replica DB5 that sold in 2019 for $6.4 million was equipped with gadgetry. Folks who have north of $3 million to put into a replica of the famous Bond car can make that investment. Aston Martin introduced the new DB5 model, fully equipped with 007’s gadgets, 2020 in. The cars are not street legal and go for $3.35 million each.
The Maltese Falcon – Statuette: $4.1M
The Maltese Falcon statuette from the 1941 crime noir starring Humphrey Bogart is exceedingly rare. There were only two. The 12-inch-high sculpture of cast lead weighs 45 pounds. Of the two, however, only this particular figurine appeared in the film.
The entire movie centered around this highly valuable piece of art, which is now a highly valuable piece of art. Funny. The Falcon statuette sold in 2013 for $4.1 million at Bonhams in New York.
The Maltese Falcon Figurine
At $4.1 million, the winning bid for the falcon figurine is a hefty sum. Having said that, this statuette is definitely authentic. There is a sure way to prove the heavy lead raptor is the one from the set of “The Maltese Falcon.”
A tail feather is bent. Lee Patrick momentously dropped the multi-million-dollar bird during the shoot as she was handing it to Bogart. It is considered the most significant movie prop in all of Hollywood.