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Most Expensive Movie Props And Costumes Ever Sold

Film and television are art forms that have defined our era. Interpreting classic tales, predicting the future, or inventing out-of-the-box imaginings, the entertainment industry has become a thriving business for sharing stories. With billions of dollars being exchanged at the box office and hundreds of millions invested into bringing movies to life, it is easy to forget how much these films hold deep emotional connections to our lives.

Millions of people pour into convention halls and theaters each year to celebrate their favorites, so it should come as no surprise that many fans are willing to pay top dollar to own a piece of motion picture history. Collectibles aside, props, set pieces, and costumes that have appeared in classic films can sometimes sell for unfathomable prices.

How much are you willing to spend for an artifact that was featured in your favorite movie? How about a costume worn by your favorite actor? These pieces of movie history fill museums and galleries across the planet. However, some collectors are willing to throw more money than many of us will see in our lifetimes to have these one-of-a-kind trinkets in their private collections. Keep reading to discover some of the biggest price tags people have paid to own a movie prop or costume. But fair warning: You may need smelling salts when you see some of these numbers.

Steve McQueen's driving suit - Le Mans - $984k

Nicknamed the King of Cool, Steve McQueen was a box office champion of the 1960s, featured in films such as "The Magnificent Seven" and "The Thomas Crown Affair." His hardened and competitive persona made him an icon for a generation, resulting in McQueen becoming the highest-paid actor of his time. Fans simply couldn't get enough of Steve McQueen. Therefore, it undoubtedly elated a 12-year-old boy in 1971 when he won a Hinchman Nomex racing suit worn by McQueen in the film "Le Mans" from a contest held by a local newspaper. Whether emotionally attached to the movie prop or just financially savvy, that contest-winning child held on to his prize for a few decades.

The owner of McQueen's driving outfit finally put it up for auction in 2011. Termed "the Holy Grail of racing film costumes," the suit was estimated to rake in $200,000 to $300,000. Surprisingly, the final price tag for the racing suit was just short of a cool million. Selling for $984,000, the high cost made the recent purchase of the Porsche 911 driven in the same film for $1.375 million look like a bargain, when you consider the cost of sports cars versus clothing.

Darth Vader's Helmet - The Empire Strikes Back - $1m

You have heard of a little trilogy of movies from the late '70s and early '80s called "Star Wars." The science fiction franchise is now one of the biggest moneymakers in Hollywood, with Disney earning billions off their most recent trilogy of "Star Wars" features. With cadres of diehard fans, it has become a phenomenon unto itself. So it should come as no shock that the fans with the deepest pockets are willing to pay top dollar for memorabilia from this ground-breaking film series.

Darth Vader, who is one of the most iconic villains in movie history, is a significant part of what drew kids to theaters to watch the original "Star Wars" trilogy. Instantly recognizable for his black clothing and robotic mask, Vader is a fan-favorite character around which the franchise was built. If there was any piece of "Star Wars" memorabilia to spend over one million dollars on, it would be Darth Vader's iconic headpiece. At least, that's what one mystery fan decided in 2019 when purchasing the black fiberglass and foam helmet worn by actor David Prowse in "The Empire Strikes Back." The piece that appeared during one of cinema history's biggest reveals — the "I am your father" scene — was originally estimated to bring in around $400,000 by someone who obviously underestimated the "Star Wars" fandom.

Dance floor - Saturday Night Fever - $1.2m

Those who were stricken with disco fever in the 1970s will be quick to remember the film "Saturday Night Fever," starring a young John Travolta. Apparently, the movie has been "Stayin' Alive" in the hearts of its fans, as the brightly colored dance floor that was prominently featured throughout the film is now an expensive piece of movie history memorabilia.

Aside from the flashy couture wardrobes and poppy Bee Gees-infused soundtrack, "Saturday Night Fever" is best remembered for Travolta strutting his stuff across a lit-up multicolored dance floor. The set piece was originally installed at the 2001 Odyssey Disco Club where the movie was filmed, and it lived there until the establishment closed its doors in 2005. From there, the yellow, red, and blue floor went up for auction for the first time, and despite some legal drama, landed in the hands of Vito Bruno. He held on to it for several years, but eventually put it back on the auction block, with a much higher price tag this time. Estimated to fetch up to $1.5 million, the light-up dance floor was purchased for the sum of $1.2 million in 2017.

Julie Andrews' dress and children's costumes - The Sound of Music - $1.3m

The hills were alive with the sound of money in 2013, when an auction featured a collection of costumes from the 1965 classic "The Sound of Music." The musical starred Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, who helped make songs like "Do-Re-Mi" and "My Favorite Things" become beloved musical theater numbers. After receiving five Academy Awards and becoming a massive box office success in 1965, there is no argument that the politically infused musical is a masterpiece of filmmaking.

With such cinematic influence and relevance, there are many collectors who would clamor to have a prop from "The Sound of Music." Astonishingly, the price tag for garments that appeared onscreen soared to the height of $1.3 million at an auction in California nearly 50 years after the film was released. Of the items collected was a costume worn by Julie Andrews' character Maria, labeled as "a heavy brown homespun Austrian-style dress with a wheat-colored homespun blouse." Alongside the iconic garment were multiple pieces of floral-designed lederhosen cleverly designed by Maria from old curtains and worn by the Von Trapp children.

Ruby Slippers - The Wizard of Oz - $2m

Often in the conversation for the greatest film ever made, "The Wizard of Oz" is as iconic and legendary as a movie can be. Dorothy's unforgettable adventure down the yellow brick road broke the mold in 1939 with its use of Technicolor, fantasy themes, and a musical score that has remained engrained in our culture over 80 years later. While some reviewers of the time famously considered "Oz" to be "a stinkeroo," it is debatable if the movie industry would be what it is today without the beloved children's musical.

As such, it is no surprise that any prop from "The Wizard of Oz" would fetch serious bucks today. The most memorable props from the film were the ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland as she went off to see the wizard. Multiple pairs of the famous red shoes have been in circulation throughout the years. The highest price thrown at the shiny slippers was $2 million, purchased by a group in 2012 to be donated to the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. Subsequently, another pair has since gone up for sale for a significantly steeper price tag of $6 million, though they have yet to be purchased. Meanwhile, if you were wondering how much it would cost to finish Judy Garland's full on-screen ensemble, Dorothy's stained blue dress sold for a whopping $1.56 million in 2015.

R2-D2 – Star Wars - $2.76m

As exciting as it is to purchase a unique prop from a classic movie, it is rare that a whole character goes up for sale. Thankfully, "Star Wars" is full of puppets and droids that were used to bring a galaxy to life. But of all the lovable creatures that fill the screen throughout the "Star Wars" franchise, none are more beloved than Astromech droid R2-D2. Beyond being one of the first characters that audiences were introduced to in the original 1977 film, Artoo and his companion C-3PO appear in nearly every project ever released from the franchise. If you ever wanted to own a piece of "Star Wars" history, then these are the droids you are looking for.

Interestingly, for the original trilogy, R2-D2 was a modular prop, with pieces that could be removed or interchanged based on the scenes being filmed. Thankfully, one person was astute enough at the end of the three films to rebuild at least one fully composed version of the iconic droid. The 43-inch robot went up for auction in 2017, breaking the record for the highest price ever paid for a piece of "Star Wars" memorabilia at $2.76 million. Meanwhile, the lightsaber used by Luke Skywalker throughout the original film and its sequel "The Empire Strikes Back" sold at the same auction for $450,000.

Cowardly Lion costume - The Wizard of Oz - $3.077m

While Dorothy's ruby slippers may be the most iconic piece from 1939's "The Wizard of Oz," they are not the most expensive memorabilia from the classic film ever sold. Those bragging rights belong to the king of the jungle without any nerve: The Cowardly Lion, portrayed by Bert Lahr. Interestingly, the lion costume that appeared in the film significantly outsold the red shoes, landing a hefty price tag of $3.077 million at an auction in 2014.

Worryingly, the outfit made from real lion skin and fur was nearly lost forever. The item, now worth millions, had been abandoned in one of the oldest buildings owned by MGM before being discovered by a junk dealer. The important piece of movie history was later restored and conserved by the Los Angeles Museum of Art and gifted a custom figure with a "photo-realistic head sculpture." And while several versions of the costume were made for the film, analysis has shown that the "unique swirls" in the fur prove that the $3 million piece was worn during key scenes throughout the movie.

Sam's piano - Casablanca - $3.413m

Featuring an A-list cast and the top writers of the era, "Casablanca" has been called "the best Hollywood movie of all time." It was selected second in AFI's 100 Greatest American Films in 1998, and the undisputed masterpiece remains one of the most beloved pieces of cinema ever released. Undoubtedly, any prop from the 80-year-old cinematic achievement is going to fetch a pretty penny. However, no piece from the film is as valuable as the painted piano that sat in Rick's Café Américain.

Aside from providing the film with many of its memorable musical numbers, the piano plays a practical role within the narrative, as it is where the letters of transit are stored. "Fifteen minutes into the movie, he tucks them in there," said auction house director Catherine Williamson, speaking about the piano's significance to The New York Times. "They're under there while Sam plays; they're there for all of the activity that happens in the cafe. The piano is there. It represents the way out for them. That's what made it so important." As such, the final sale price of $3.413 million is reasonable — even if the piano still has the same wad of chewing gum stuck to it from the movie.

Audrey Hepburn's dress - My Fair Lady - $3.7m

More than just a movie star, Audrey Hepburn was an undisputed fashion icon and humanitarian loved the world over. She is a screen legend if there ever was one, as solidified by her placement on the AFI's 100 Years... 100 Stars list. Aside from her many award-winning performances, the starlet was one of Hollywood's best-dressed, with the world's greatest designers clamoring to create her on-screen outfits. Unsurprisingly, many of Hepburn's dresses have been sold for top dollar at auctions, including the little black dress from "Breakfast at Tiffany's," which brought in close to $1 million in 2006.

Among the many beautiful outfits adorned by Hepburn, none are as iconic or as lavish as the black and white Ascot dress worn in "My Fair Lady." The nearly 60-year-old dress went up for auction in 2011 and was expected to bring in between $200,000 and $300,000. However, the fashionable piece went above and beyond with a final price tag of $3.7 million. The expensive attire went on sale as part of actress Debbie Reynolds' personal collection, which included pieces such as Marlon Brando's costume from "Napolean Bonaparte" and Michael Myers' "Austin Powers" outfit.

The Maltese Falcon statue - The Maltese Falcon - $4.085m

The Humphry Bogart-led "The Maltese Falcon" is considered one of the best examples of film noir. At the center of the murder mystery is the titular Maltese Falcon statue, which is described as "the stuff that dreams are made of." Several copies of the bird sculpture were designed for the movie and each time one has gone up for sale, the price tag has grown significantly higher. In 1994, one of the falcon props broke records for being the most costly piece of movie memorabilia ever sold when it landed close to $400,000 at auction. Years later, that number soared much higher.

In 2013, another version of the Maltese Falcon prop went up for sale, with this one being the only version confirmed to appear in the film, thanks to a unique bend in its tail feathers. This time around, the 45-pound, 12-inch-tall figure made of lead sold for $4,085,000, far more than the $10,000 that was exchanged for the piece in the original film. "The spectacular price achieved reflects the statuette's tremendous significance," said Bonham's director of entertainment memorabilia, Catherine Williamson. "The Maltese Falcon is arguably the most important movie prop ever and is central to the history of cinema."

Batmobile - Batman - $4.6m

There are many vehicles specialized for film and television, such as the "Ghostbusters" ambulance or David Hasselhoff's "Knight Rider" car KITT. Still, no fictional vehicle has a more storied career or is as instantly recognizable as the Batmobile. Sure, there have been multiple versions of Batman's famous car of choice on-screen. But one Batmobile stands above the rest as the most iconic, and that is the original version used for the 1960s "Batman" television series and subsequent film.

The vintage Batmobile was the brainchild of car customizer George Barris, who was also responsible for autos used in "The Beverly Hillbillies" and "The Munsters." The creator built the iconic 19-foot-long Batmobile for the series out of a 1955 Lincoln Futura concept car in just 15 days. Once the old Adam West franchise wrapped production, the car was returned to Barris, who maintained it in his collection before putting it up for auction in 2013. Undoubtedly, there was a buzz, a thwap, and a bang as the original Batmobile was sold for $4.2 million plus a 10 percent sales commission. Unfortunately, the crimefighting vehicle does not perform any of the amazing tricks, like shooting flames or ejecting seats, that it showcased during its time on screen — although it does come with a Batphone.

James Bond's Aston Martin DB5 - Goldfinger - $4.6m

Super spy James Bond is known for a lot of things: Shaken martinis, beautiful women, and fancy gadgets. But he has also driven some unforgettable cars throughout the 25 full-length Bond movies. Still, there is one vehicle that stands apart from the rest, as one of the most dynamic and alluring cars to ever appear in cinema: the Aston Martin DB5. The specialized sports car stuck with Sean Connery's version of 007 in "Goldfinger" and "Thunderball."

The eye-striking automobile is not just sought-after but extremely rare, with only four Bond-modified versions rumored to be made, and only two appearing on screen. Sadly, one of the Aston Martins known to be driven by Sean Connery was stolen in 1997 and has never surfaced since. Meanwhile, the other film-used vehicle made waves when it sold for an astounding $4.6 million in 2010. That number was outdone just nine years later, when one of the promotional versions of the modified vehicle reached the hefty price tag of $6.4 million. Interestingly, the Aston Martin DB5 is not the only Bond vehicle to make a newsworthy sale, as the Lotus Esprit submarine car used in "The Spy Who Loved Me" sold for nearly $1 million to tech mogul Elon Musk in 2013. "I was disappointed to learn that it can't actually transform," Musk joked about the car's onscreen underwater abilities. "What I'm going to do is upgrade it with a Tesla electric powertrain and try to make it transform for real."

Robby the Robot - Forbidden Planet - $5.375m

While Robby the Robot may not be as instantly recognizable as modern movie robots like R2-D2 or WALL-E, those droids owe much of their inspiration to the bot from "Forbidden Planet." The futuristic Robby is credited for being one of the first on-screen robots to have personality. The $100,000 price to build the robot's unique futuristic look was a massive expenditure for a film prop made in 1956. But Robby became such a star from his role in "Forbidden Planet," he made many other appearances in shows including "The Addams Family," "Lost in Space," and "The Twilight Zone." He even had a brief cameo in 1984's "Gremlins."

Robby's final starring role was taking center stage in a 2017 "Out of This World!" auction, where the robot became the most expensive movie prop ever sold, coming in at $5.375 million including auction house premium. The Robby suit is comprised of three interlocking parts and was sold alongside his original Jeep, an alternative 'claw,' and a second head that was used for "The Twilight Zone." "I'm astounded by the price, but also sad to part with him," said a statement released by Robby's former owner, filmmaker William Malone. "It's time Robby finds a place where he can be displayed, and with someone who can look after him. Of course, he will leave an empty spot in my house — and in my heart."

Marilyn Monroe's dress - The Seven Year Itch - $5.6m

When it comes to the biggest price tag of any movie costume ever sold, the iconic dress should be instantly recognizable. The record-breaking outfit was adorned by the original "blond bombshell," Marilyn Monroe, who took over Hollywood in the 1950s before her untimely death in 1962. Featured in the film "The Seven Year Itch," Monroe's white dress is almost synonymous with her stardom. Pictures of the actress holding down the skirt while standing above a subway vent have become among the most famous images of the late performer.

The costume was in the possession of another former actress, Debbie Reynolds, who held the dress in her collection for over four decades. Sold in an auction that saw three other Monroe dresses fetch a combined sum of $2.7 million, the "subway" dress was the clear prize of the day. The final number bid as the gavel hammered down was $4.6 million with an additional $1 million added for the auction house's commission, landing the full price paid by the unidentified buyer at $5.6 million. With expectations of the costume fetching around $2 million, the frenzied action reportedly had Reynolds in tears as she said goodbye to what is arguably the most famous dress in history.