Find Out Just How Much It Costs to Own Hollywood's Most Iconic Props
01.08.14 by Sean
On Beverly Hills Pawn, we get an inside look at what goes on at Yossi Dina's legendary pawn shop. Many of his clients are looking to sell iconic pieces of Hollywood history, so we decided to see where the most famous props in the history of film have ended up, and how much it cost people to get their hands on them.
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Perhaps it's false to speak of one pair of ruby slippers, as in fact there were at least six or seven pairs worn in the movie. In any case, four pairs are known to still exist. One pair ended up in the hands of the Smithsonian, which purchased the pair for a mere $15,000, although this was 1970s money. A second pair was purchased for $165,000 in 1988, and since then have been exhibited at Walt Disney World. A pair worn by the witch, rather than Dorothy, was also purchased for $165,000, but since then it returned to auction in 2011 with a reserve price of $2 million and an estimated value somewhere between that and $3 million. It was purchased by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences for an unknown amount and will be exhibited by them whenever they finish construction of a museum. Of the other pairs, the curled-toe pair was sold for $510,000 in 2011.
The great mcguffin from perhaps the greatest film ever made also had several copies made for production—which is a blessing, since otherwise there would be none left, given the sleigh's destruction at the end of the picture. Steven Spielberg famously purchased one for just $60,500 in 1981, much to Orson Welles' annoyance when Spielberg balked at offering the great director a cent to finish his picture The Other Side of the Wind. Another sleigh is claimed to still exist, in private possession, and Welles himself commented that there was no reason to dispute this fact, though it hasn't been displayed.
Casablanca is filled with iconic moments, and one of the most memorable ones of these was the piano performance of "As Time Goes By." Originally purchased in 1988 for $154,000, it went back up for auction in 2012 for by Sotheby's for $602,500, though it's estimated to be worth far more. Plus, by all accounts it still plays fine.
Like so many of these other "singular" pieces of memorabilia, the titular bird from The Maltese Falcon also had multiple copies made. One of these was purchased in 1994 for nearly $400,000, but the more recent falcon sale made news at the end of 2013 by going for more than $4,000,000. That's quite a raise in price, especially considering that in the film itself Humphrey Bogart is offered a mere $25,000, which by the end of the picture degrades down to $10,000.
Usually it's older movie memorabilia that's more expensive, but when it comes to modern epics that isn't always the case. In December of 2013, Julien's Auctions sold off many props from Lord of the Rings, including weapons originally given away to fans in a contest. The most famous of these weapons was the magical sword Sting, wielded by Frodo throughout the trilogy and given to him by Bilbo (presumably another version was made for The Hobbit trilogy). While it sold for $161,000, it was surprisingly outpaced by the sale of Gimli's axe, which went for $185,000.
6. Marilyn Monroe's "Subway Dress" from The Seven Year Itch
While probably not the most famous piece of clothing ever to make its way to celluloid, this dress worn by Marilyn Monroe is quite likely the most expensive. In 2011, it went up for auction and netted a whopping $4.6 million, not even including a 20% "buyer's premium." It was sold by Debbie Reynolds of (Singin' in the Rain fame), who put it and almost 600 other costumes up at the same time, including Monroe's red-sequinned dress from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes ($1.2 million) and Audrey Hepburn's ascot dress from My Fair Lady ($3.7 million).
7. Charlie Chaplin's Cane from Modern Times
The second cane to make our list is a real one, and without it and his cap Charlie Chaplin was almost unidentifiable. Originally given by Chaplin to a film historian and signed by the little tramp himself, the cane from his most famous picture was sold last year for $420,000.
8. Indiana Jones' whip from the Indiana Jones franchise
Of course money isn't everything when it comes to memorabilia. For sheer coolness factor, there's no beating Indiana Jones's original whip, used in all three pictures of the original trilogy. While there were numerous "stunt" whips produced for the movie, the same one was always used in close-ups, and it went for a mere $114,000 in July of last year. With a bargain like that, how can you afford not to own one?