Last month we previewed the Captain America: The First Avenger auction to be conducted by Marvel Studios and auction house Profiles in History. The auction was held April 14, 2012 at the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo with incredible results proving that Marvel Comics fans are as rabid as any genre collecting group. Details of the full prices realized can be found via links at Profiles in History’s company website. Featuring primarily props, costumes, and set pieces from the 2011 release Captain America: The First Avenger, the auction also featured a few lots from Iron Man 2 and Thor. The auction included four recognizable Captain America supersuits, as well as several other costumes worn by actor Chris Evans, and 11 iconic shield variants.
The key item up for bid was Lot 154, the Steve Rogers Captain America hero costume and shield worn by Chris Evans in the movie, which served as his final superhero suit in the film and is the suit used in all the Marvel posters and marketing. It carried an auction estimate of $20,000-$30,000. The final price including the auction house premium? A stunning $233,700! That’s right–nearly a quarter of a million dollars. You’ll be hard pressed to come up with any genre costume from any character of any series, sci-fi, fantasy, or superhero movie, that has ever sold at auction for so much. Clearly a landmark price for a neat character costume.
Why such a high hammer price, as compared with sales in past auctions of other hero costumes from other franchises? Several factors created fertile turf for this monumental auction, including: (1) the movie itself received critical acclaim and approval of average movie-goers (I have met no one who saw this film and didn’t think it was very good), (2) the character is iconic–literally a hero suit (as opposed to a stunt suit) from an actual superhero, (3) it’s Captain America–there’s a lot of nationalistic pride behind this character and its historic place in both comicdom, World War II mythos, and Americana, (4) unlike all the Batman, Spider-man, and Superman suits on the market from several movies, this was the first big budget Captain America film, for a character who has been around and beloved by all ages for three generations, (5) the Avengers have never been bigger in the history of Marvel Comics than this month–with the release of Avengers vs. X-Men and the new Avengers film premiering everywhere in just days from now, (6) this was a rare occasion where a film costume didn’t match the classic costume and fans didn’t care because the new outfit was designed with cool results, (7) the auction was heavily publicized and was held in a venue with excited comic book fans, (8) the simple but nicely done catalog arrived early and gave interested bidders time to plan bidding strategies, (9) the auction house, Profiles in History, is simply getting more and more visible, especially with its SyFy Channel TV series Hollywood Treasure, and the recent record-setting movie costume sales from the Debbie Reynolds collection.
Chris Evans’ Captain America USO costume and shield had an estimate of $4,000-$6,000. Final sale price? $30,750.
The Captain America costume worn by Evans in the POW rescue scene had an auction estimate of $6,000-$8,000. The lot included an early style Cap shield. Final sale price? $27,675—less than the distressed version–Evan’s Captain America distressed rescue suit also had an auction estimate of $6,000-$8,000, but sold for $30,750–still a low price considering it was seen so much in the film as compared to the primary hero outfit.
One early style Cap shield from the Hydra factory scene carried a $2,000-$3,000 estimate. It sold for $13,530. A separate shield of the same design was estimated to sell at $2,000-$3,000. It sold for $14,760. A similar shield with distress marks from the “Invaders” scene had the same auction estimate. It sold for $17,220.
An unpainted silver prototype shield from Howard Stark’s laboratory carried an auction estimate of $3,000-$5,000. It sold for $18,450.
One shield offered was the frozen in ice version, which had an auction estimate of $4,000-$6,000. I think this was the coolest shield at the auction. It sold for a cool $24,600. Lot 177 was a classic, traditional Captain America shield, expected to sell for $4,000-$6,000. It fetched $27,675. Yet another battle damaged shield from the final showdown with Red Skull carried an auction estimate of $4,000-$6,000. It sold for $27,675.
A distressed stunt shield of the same type from the show’s final showdown carried an estimate of $3,000-$5,000. It sold for $20,910.
The Steve Rogers’ hero modified Harley Davidson motorcycle had an auction estimate of $12,000-$15,000 and a second hero motorcycle from a different scene has an auction estimate of $10,000-$12,000. They sold for $14,760 and $12,300, respectively.
Red Skull and Hydra
Hugo Weaving’s Johann Schmidt/Red Skull SS costumes were expected to fetch $6,000-$8,000 each. They ranged from $19,680 to $20,910. Weaving’s bright red “Red Skull” facial prosthetics—3 in all—were expected to sell for $2,000-$3,000. They sold for $4,305 to $7,995.
A Hydra non-functional mini-tank was expected to fetch $12,000-$15,000. It was one of the rare key pieces that sold in its estimate range, for $14,760. Various Hydra motorcycles carried an auction estimate ranging from $3,000-$6,000. They sold between $4,920 and $18,450. Several Hydra soldier uniforms had an auction estimate of $1,000-$1,500. They sold well over that, from $6,765 for standard outfit to $15,990 for the hero outfit.
The original, incredibly detailed, full-scale Mark II silver Iron Man suit from Iron Man 2 had an auction estimate of $60,000-$80,000. It sold for a whopping $135,300.
Finally, two stunt Thor Mjolnir war hammers were offered at the end of the auction from the Kenneth Branagh movie Thor, each expected to sell between $3,000-$6,000. They each sold for $19,680 and $23,370, incredible for rubber stunt props of any film.
As with most Profiles in History auctions, the actual hammer prices (rimshot) generally far exceeded the auction estimates. Movie studios are sure to take note of this quickly burgeoning source for revenues. With strike prices this impressive, expect studios that haven’t paid much attention to the costumes and props that were once thrown out after production in the past to follow suit with future auctions.