Owning a film prop means owning your own piece of cinematic history. In recent years, it has become abundantly clear that people with the right means want to own props featured in their favorite classic movies, and are willing to pay a pretty penny to do so. Here we break down some of the most expensive film props ever to be sold at auction.
1. Robby the Robot from Forbidden Planet – $5.3 Million
Kicking off our list of the most expensive movie props of all time is Robby the Robot from the 1956 sci-fi film, Forbidden Planet. At a Bonhams auction in New York City, there was a three-way bidding war for the seven-foot-tall robot. The winner eventually paid $5,375,000 million for Robby. The prop was still fully functional when it sold in 2017!
2. James Bond’s Aston Martin DB5 – $4.6 Million
The Aston Martin DB5 driven by Sean Connery in Goldfinger (1964) and Thunderball (1965) is often mistaken as the most expensive movie prop of all time. The British sports car company produced two different prototypes of the DB5s that Sean Connery drove in the films. One of the prototypes was decked out with different add-ons, including a bullet-proof shield, and was dubbed the “Effects Car.” The second prototype was for regular driving and was known as the “Road Car.”
In 1969, the Road Car was sold to radio executive Jerry Lee for $12,000. The Effects Car was sold in 2010 to collector Harry Yeaggy by the auction house RM Auctions Automobiles of London, for an astonishing $4.6 million. Yeaggy has a private car museum in Ohio where the DB5 is one of the many rare cars on display.
3. Marilyn Monroe’s iconic white dress – $4.6 Million
Perhaps one of the most recognizable dresses of all time, Marilyn Monroe’s white dress worn in the movie The Seven Year Itch sold for a whopping $4.6 million in 2011. The dress was part of a collection of film memorabilia amassed by actress Debbie Reynolds over the span of four decades. Also sold in this auction was the headdress worn by Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra and the guitar Julie Andrews strummed in The Sound of Music.
4. The Maltese Falcon – $4.1 Million
In 2014, the only known film-used Falcon used in The Maltese Falcon (1941) sold at auction for $4,085,000. The falcon statue sold was one of two made specifically for the movie, but ultimately only one of these statues was used during filming of the Maltese Falcon. According to Bonhams, which conducted the 2014 action, the markings on the statue – particularly a small dent from where the statue was dropped – can be matched to the falcon used on film.
5. Audrey Hepburn’s My Fair Lady Ascot dress – $3.7 Million
This white dress might not be as recognizable as Marilyn Monroe’s dress in The Seven Year Itch, the white “Ascot” dress Audrey Hepburn wore in My Fair Lady still brought in $3.7 million at a 2011 auction. The dress was created by designer Cecil Beaton, who won an Academy Award for Best Costume Design for his work on My Fair Lady.
6. Sam’s piano from Casablanca – $3.4 Million
One of the most famous pianos in movie history is the one from the 1943 movie Casablanca. Who could forget Ingrid Bergman famously saying “Play it Sam. Play ‘As Time Goes By'”? The piano was sold at a New York City auction in 2014 for $3.4 million. The “lucky” buyer also got a wad of chewing gum found under the keyboard, although no one is sure who was responsible for putting the used piece of gum there.
7. The Cowardly Lion costume – $3 Million
The Cowardly Lion costume from the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz sold at a 2014 auction for $3.07 million. Actor Bert Lahr wore this costume in more than a dozen scenes in the film. The costume has a sculpted mask based on the likeliness of the actor and his son, making it look extremely lifelike. This unique piece of movie history is also made out of real lion hair and weighs nearly 60 pounds, which must have made it extremely hot to wear.
8. Dorothy’s ruby slippers – $2 Million
There were four pairs of ruby red slippers created for Judy Garland to wear in The Wizard of Oz, with the most expensive pair being sold for $2 million at a 2012 auction. Interestingly, Leonardo DiCaprio and Steven Spielberg were the primary buyers of this pair of ruby slippers, and chose to donate the slippers to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.
9. Do-Re-Mi outfits from The Sound of Music – $1.56 Million
Technically, paying $1.56 million for eight different costumes is a steal, right? At a 2014 auction, all seven drapery costumes worn by the von Trapp children, along with the brown dress worn by Julie Andrews during the “Do-Re-Mi” scene in The Sound Of Music, were sold for $1.56 million. The film won five Oscars in 1966.
10. Audrey Hepburn’s black dress from Breakfast at Tiffany’s – $807,000
If Marilyn Monroe’s white dress from The Seven Year Itch is the most famous white dress of all time, Audrey Hepburn’s Givenchy dress worn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) could be the most famous black dress of all time. In 2006, the dress was sold at a Christie’s auction, where experts predicted it would sell for a maximum of $138,000.
Two other copies of this dress survive, one in Givenchy’s archive and the other in a costume museum in Madrid.