There’s no better way to bring home a slice of Hollywood than buying famous movie props, memorabilia, and a piece of movie history. It wasn’t until the ’70s that movie studios caught on to the fact that their movie props may actually be worth a pretty penny. In the past, props and costumes were just stored away or reused. Sometimes employees would take them home as souvenirs. Thousands of items were auctioned off when James Thomas Aubrey, Jr. became president of MGM studios. This cost-cutting measure sparked a collecting craze. We want to know which props were the most popular and how much they sell for?
Let’s take a look at the most famous movie props and movie memorabilia of all time.
10The Time-Traveling DeLorean from ‘Back to the Future’
Only four customized DeLoreans are known to exist today. The iconic movie memorabilia is on display with one car at Universal Studios Orlando, and one at Universal Studios Hollywood. One went to auction in 2011 and fetched a price of $640,000.
9Aragorn’s Sword from ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King’
For the final film of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy, Sir Christopher Lee put the weapon of hero Aragorn up for sale. The sword, dubbed ‘Andúril,’ sold for nearly double the estimated price at a cool $520,000. The sword is up there as one of the most expensive prop weapons ever sold and one of the famous movie props ever made.
8Marilyn Monroe’s Dress from ‘The Seven Year Itch’
Marilyn Monroe’s dress in ‘The Seven Year Itch’ has to be one of the most iconic movie moments of all time. The dress was a collection out of 3500 costumes designed by Debbie Reynolds, who has intended to put them on display in her own museum. Although that dream never came true, she decided to sell her collection. In 2011, the iconic movie dress fetched a whopping $5.4 million (minus the $1.2 million commission fee).
7KITT from ‘Nightrider’
KITT made an impression on-screen as the AI supercar in 1982. Many copies of the cool car were made over the years. David Hasselhoff sold his own 1986 KITT in 2014. Only two years later and a 1984 Pontiac Firebird made to look like the iconic movie prop car went up for auction and swiftly sold for $40,000.
6Luke Skywalker’s Lightsaber
In real life, Luke’s Jedi weapon is less magical as the handle was simply made from a tube of an old Graflex camera. This handheld flash had a blade attached, which was just a wooden pole that had special projection paint applied to it to give off light, which was added post-production. Although the construction was humble, the weapon from ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ and ‘A New Hope’ sold for an amazing $285,000 in 2008.
5James Bond’s Aston Martin from ‘Goldfinger’
Both ‘Goldfinger‘ and Thunderball‘ featured the famous DB5 car. Everyone’s favorite British spy had the car at his disposal as well as all the necessary gadgets for espionage. The car performed effects such as rotating license plates, it had an ejector seat, and also front wing machine guns. It’s certainly up there with the famous movie props ever made. The second car was more suitable for the road, and even though one of these cars was stolen in Boca Rotan at an air hanger, never to be seen again, the other DB5 sold for $4.6M at auction.
4Dorothy’s Shoes from ‘The Wizard of Oz’
Although in L. Frank Baum’s book, the ruby red shoes in the film were actually silver in the book, the color was changed to show off the vibrantly colored yellow brick road. Only four known pairs are known to have survived. In 2005, one pair was stolen from the Judy Garland Museum, and another pair is on display at the Smithsonian’s Museum of American History. In 2000, another pair went up for auction, and the last pair sold for a gargantuan $660,000. This iconic movie prop has to be the most expensive pair of shoes.
3Rick’s Cafe Doors from ‘Casablanca’
Every character has walked through the doors of Rick’s cafe in the film Casablanca. The film shows the cafe, and as the camera pans down, the doors are in the scene to show all the activity going on inside. For old school movie fans, these doors are the most famous movie props ever. In 2014 these iconic movie memorabilia cafe doors sold for a staggering $136,000.
2Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Overall, six cars were made for the film, yet only one, registered as GEN11 in the UK, was road-worthy. Arguably one of the most famous movie props from England, in 2010 the car made several appearances before going up for auction in 2011. It sold for a whopping $956,000.
1Audrey Hepburn’s Little Black Dress from ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’
As Hepburn steps out of a yellow New York taxi, she dons the iconic black dress in the opening scene of ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s.’ The dress was designed by Givenchy, a close friend of Hepburn’s. There are only 3 of the black dresses known to have survived. In Madrid one is on display at a costume museum, Givenchy has one in his archive, and the last one sold in 2006 at an auction for $958,000.
Your Famous Movie Props Questions Answered
Robby the Robot, is the most valuable movie prop of all time, selling for $5.375, in an auction house in New York. It first stated in Forbidden planet in 1956 before going on to appear in Twilight Zone and The Addams Family.
Once filming has wrapped up movie props are usually either sent a warehouse, sold at an auction or taken home by the designer. They also find their way onto other movie sets, into themed restaurants, into museums, and even in the trash. If actors are fond of a particular item they can sometimes keep them.
The most expensive movie poster is from the 1932 film, The Mummy. It sold for $435,000 in 1997 and remains the highest amount ever paid for a poster.
While most movies don’t have the money to continually destroy expensive cars take after take, expensive cars do get destroyed. However, a lot of the time on screen trickery is used to convince the audience expensive cars have been destroyed.
What’s the most expensive iconic movie prop, or famous movie memorabilia you know of? Let us know in the comments!