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5 of the highest priced film memorabilia items ever to be sold at auction

By LLM Reporters on 9th November 2020

There’s no denying that the glitz and glamour of the movies holds quite some allure to many, and if you’ve ever found yourself coveting the house, relationship or even the entire life of one of the leading characters, then the chances are, you are not alone.

In a world where everything seems to be just perfect, it’s almost impossible not to be swept up in the magic, the romance and the drama – and whether you have a particular favourite on-screen character or are an all-round film enthusiast who just can’t get enough of the big screen, the chances are, you’ve seen an item you’d love to lay your hands on, too.

Film memorabilia – in other words, objects that are considered of high value because of their connection to the cinema – have long been coveted by fans, who in the early days, were eager to gain possession of original photographs, posters and props – complete with their favourite actor’s autographs, of course. But it wasn’t long before demand surpassed such offerings, and times began to change.

In recent years, collecting memorabilia has evolved from a mere hobby into big business, with many highly sought-after film items going for millions at auction. The turning point came in 1970, when MGM ran its first auction, and these days, all manner of memorabilia can be sourced from independent, online stores and film studio charity events alike, with fans, collectors and all-round cinema enthusiasts practically falling over themselves – and each other – to get to the prize.

While most items tend to fetch a respectable price, there are some that have far exceeded expectations, with items including Harrison Ford’s pistol in Blade Runner to Judy Garland’s slippers in The Wizard of Oz, fetching eye-watering amounts, often for a good cause.

Take a look at five of the highest-priced items ever to be sold at auction. Fancy getting your hands on one or two next time?

harrison ford
Harrison Ford starred in the 1982 sci-fi film Blade Runner. Image credit: DFree/Bigstock.com

Harrison Ford’s Pistol (Blade Runner) – $270,000

Anyone who has seen the film Blade Runner will remember the pistol wielded by Harrison Ford, and back in 2012, it fetched an impressive $270,000 at a Hollywood auction. Prior to the auction, it had been estimated that the item would go for somewhere between $100,000 – $150,000 – but it seems that demand was much higher than expected. A competitive bidding war ensued, and the hero blaster was taken home by an avid fan and collector.

The blaster gun was used by Ford in the film to hunt down and kill futuristic humanoids, and although the 1982 movie offered a look into the future at the time, it couldn’t have predicted such a result at auction.

Tom Cruise’s Top Gun helmet – $330,000

Following a similar pattern, another auction held earlier this year saw fans going head to head in a bid to get their hands on Tom Cruise’s gun helmet from Top Gun. The item sold for more than five times its pre-sale estimate, scooping a whopping $330,000 at the Entertainment Memorabilia Live Auction.

It’s little wonder it was able to fetch a price, since the popular 1986 film remains a cult classic until today – the recently published book, ‘Top Gun: An American Story’ (2019), the new Top Gun Strategy board game and the upcoming 2021 Top Gun: Maverick movie are evidence that demand is still going strong. There is even now a branded Top Gun slot game that players can discover at online casinos that have promo codes, such as Betfair and Netbet. There will be also an auction for Tom Cruise’s ‘Top Gun’ bomber jacket this December.

Judy Garland’s ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz – $666,000

Fans of the 1939 film, the Wizard of Oz will remember the ruby red slippers Dorothy wore to get herself home to Kansas fondly, but for some, seeing them on screen simply wasn’t enough. In 2000, shoes sold for a monumental $666,000 at an auction of Hollywood memorabilia, and were bought by a private collector who owns their own memorabilia shop in LA.

Surprisingly though, the Cowardly Lion costume, which was expected to command a similar price, failed to sell. It just goes to show that you can never quite predict what film enthusiasts and collectors will love best – but when they do want something, it’s clear to see that they will go all out.

tom cruise
Tom Cruise is famous for his role in the iconic Top Gun film. Image credit: s_bukley/Bigstock.com

Audrey Hepburn’s black dress from Breakfast at Tiffany’s – $807,000

Upping the ante further still, the black Givenchy dress that was worn by actress Audrey Hepburn in the iconic 1961 film, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, was sold for a hefty $807,000. The price, which was offered up by a mystery telephone bidder, was almost six times the highest pre-sale estimate, stunning auctioneers and fellow bidders alike.

Proceeds from the sale, which took place at Christie’s auction house in London, went to the City of Joy Aid charity, which helps address poverty in India.

Marilyn Monroe’s dress from The Seven Year Itch – $4.6m

As if things couldn’t get any more extravagant, a 2011 Los Angeles auction had to go one better, with the beautiful white dress worn by Marilyn Monroe in the 1955 film ‘The Seven Year Itch’ fetching an incredible $4.6 million. Part of a collection of film memorabilia gathered by actress Debbie Reynolds over four decades, which she had originally hoped to exhibit in a museum, she instead decided to sell the lot – and was seen in tears as bidding on the white dress closes, having been expecting it to reach around half of the final amount.

Other items up for grabs on the day included Elizabeth Taylor’s Cleopatra headdress, a Charlie Chaplin bowler hat and the guitar played by Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music.