Big Drops for Props: The Priciest Movie Memorabilia Sold Recently

Bryan Enk
Yahoo Movies
The Maltese Falcon
The Maltese Falcon

If you want to be a serious movie memorabilia collector, you're going to need some serious funding.

Like, really serious.

The latest bit of Hollywood history to be sold at a sky-high price is the title statue featured in "The Maltese Falcon" (1941), John Huston's classic noir crime drama starring Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor and Peter Lorre. The statue, which was owned by an unidentified California collector who acquired it in a private sale in the 1980s, and which was one of two used in the film, was sold in an auction conducted by Bonhams in New York in conjunction with Turner Classic Movies to an undisclosed buyer for a whopping $4,085,000.

That's a lot, especially when you consider that the film itself cost around $375,000 to produce (true, that's in 1941 dollars, but still).

In honor of the "black figure of a bird" getting a new and apparently considerably well-off owner, we've gathered a list of some of the most expensive movie memorabilia from over the years. Hey, why open a hospital in a starving country when you can own a "Metropolis" poster?

10. "Blade Runner" Gun: $270,000

The futuristic pistol wielded by Deckard (Harrison Ford) gets at least one loving close-up in the classic sci-fi film noir, and it's that money shot that probably inspired someone to go as high as $270,000 in a 2009 auction for the prop. That's considerably higher than the pre-auction estimate of $100,000 to $150,000 — and enough for at least starting funds for the next time Ridley Scott feels like re-editing the 1982 film yet again.

9. "Star Wars" Camera: $625,000

The highest-ever bid for a "Star Wars"-related piece of memorabilia (so far) wasn't for a lightsaber or a wampa suit but for something decidedly more behind-the-scenes. The Panavision PSR 35mm camera used to film "Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope" (1977) was sold in 2011 to an undisclosed buyer for $625,000 — more than three times its $200,000 estimate and a new record for both "Star Wars" memorabilia and vintage Hollywood film cameras sold at auction. Oh, and get this: the camera still worked.

The Spy Who Loved Me
The Spy Who Loved Me

8. James Bond Lotus Esprit Submarine: $860,000

Who wouldn't want to own a submarine car — and one driven by James Bond, at that? The converted Lotus Esprit featured in "The Spy Who Loved Me" (1977) was sold at auction this year for $860,000 — to none other than Tesla CEO and PayPal co-founder Elon Musk, who will probably have a line of the vehicle available for purchase by 2016.

We're kind of not joking, actually. Musk revealed his plans in a statement: "It was amazing as a little kid in South Africa to watch James Bond in 'The Spy Who Loved Me' drive his Lotus Esprit off a pier, press a button and have it transform into a submarine underwater. I was disappointed to learn that it can't actually transform. What I'm going to do is upgrade it with a Tesla electric powertrain and try to make it transform for real."

Well, of course he is!

Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's
Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's

7. Audrey Hepburn's "Breakfast at Tiffany's" Dress: $923,187

A black Givenchy dress featured in "Breakfast at Tiffany's" (1961) is almost as iconic as the Hollywood superstar who wore it … though no one in a million years dreamed it would go to an anonymous telephone bidder for an astonishing $900K-plus. That amount is even more jaw-dropping when you consider the original estimated price at the 2006 London auction was around $114,000. Breakfast for everyone!

6. Steve McQueen's "Le Mans" Overalls: $984,000

As iconic and beloved as Audrey Hepburn might be, apparently Hollywood action star Steve McQueen makes an even bigger impression — at least to the guy who shelled out $984,000 for the racing suit McQueen wore in "Le Mans" (1971). Might the overalls worn by Chris Hemsworth in this year's "Rush" go for at least as much in a few years?

The Wizard of Oz
The Wizard of Oz

5. Judy Garland's "The Wizard of Oz" Dress: $1,119,300; Ruby Slippers: $627,300

Everyone loves "The Wizard of Oz" (1939). And people with money really like "The Wizard of Oz," as the blue and white dress worn by Judy Garland for test shoots of the fantasy classic went for $1,119,300 at the Debbie Reynolds auction in 2011. The sale makes for the only time in history that cotton was worth more than jewels, as Garland's ruby slippers went for a mere $627,300.

4. "Metropolis" Poster: $1.2 million

Here's that "Metropolis" (1927) poster we mentioned earlier. Apparently there were only four one-sheets made for Fritz Lang's highly influential sci-fi film, and one of them went for $1.2 million at a 2012 auction run by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Los Angeles. Don't be too outraged at that price, though — the "Metropolis" poster was bundled with posters for "King Kong" (1933), "The Invisible Man" (1933) and "Arsenic and Old Lace" (1944), as well as the original painting of Elvis Presley used for the "Jailhouse Rock" (1957) poster. So, you know, totally worth a million bucks.

 David O. Selznick and Vivien Leigh
David O. Selznick and Vivien Leigh

3. "Gone With the Wind" Best Picture Oscar: $1.54 million

The prop from "The Maltese Falcon" isn't the only statue worth north of $1 mil. Back in 1999, the Best Picture Oscar for "Gone With the Wind" (1939) was sold for $1.54 million — to none other than the King of Pop himself, Michael Jackson. Wasn't he a big "E.T." fan? That film won four Oscars and he didn't buy any of 'em.

2. "The Sound of Music" Wardrobe: $1.56 million

One of the most memorable scenes from "The Sound of Music" (and there are many) features Maria (Julie Andrews) making matching wardrobes for the Von Trapp children out of drapes. Those cute get-ups, along with assorted other costumes from the 1965 film, were sold at auction for $1,560,000. Hmm … maybe we should make some clothes out of the curtains, too…

Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe

1. Marilyn Monroe's Subway Dress: $4.6 million

Audrey Hepburn and Judy Garland may demand top dollar when it comes to people buying their clothes, but the price tags of their outfits don't come close to those of Marilyn Monroe's. Perhaps the biggest sex symbol of the 20th century, Monroe posed for what would become her most famous pic in a publicity photo for "The Seven Year Itch" (1955) — you know, the one where she's standing on a subway grate as her white dress is blown by a passing train. That William Travilla dress was sold at the 2011 Debbie Reynolds auction for $4.6 million — well over twice the estimated price of $1 to $2 million. As The Girl herself said, "That's real crazy!"