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Tag Archive: Auction


Back in September here at borg.com we predicted the November Bonhams auction of Robby the Robot and his “space chariot” from the 1956 science fiction classic Forbidden Planet would hit the $1 million mark and we even entertained the possibility of a $10 million sale.  Yesterday the hammer fell at $4.5 million at Bonham’s “Out of this World” auction of entertainment memorabilia and with the addition of a buyer’s premium resulting in a final sale price of $5,375,000, Robby and his car became the highest movie prop lot ever to sell at public auction.  Technically a costume that doubled as a prop, Robby the Robot also became the second highest sale price for any piece of entertainment memorabilia to sell at public auction, eclipsed only by the 2011 sale by auction house Profiles in History of the iconic Marilyn Monroe subway vent dress from The Seven Year Itch, which sold for $5.52 million including buyer’s premium (yesterday Bonhams and the mainstream press, including The New York Times and CBS, mistakenly claimed Robby’s sale surpassed the Monroe dress price, but their reports neglected to factor in the buyer’s premium for the dress–a fee the auction house charges bidders based on a percentage of the hammer price, and the Monroe dress had a hammer price of $4.6 million).  The Robby the Robot costume/prop was used in dozens if not hundreds of appearances over the decades, including in key episodes of Lost in Space and The Twilight Zone.

Still, top prop honors is nothing to sneeze at.  The sale of Robby and his car nudged from the top spot the sale of the 1966 Batmobile from the 1960s television series, which sold for $4.62 million in 2013, including buyer’s premium.  The rest of the pantheon of prime public auction screen-used prop and costume sales includes one of two original James Bond Aston Martins from Goldfinger ($4.6085 million/2010), one of the falcon props from The Maltese Falcon ($4.085 million/2013), Audrey Hepburn My Fair Lady and Breakfast at Tiffany’s dresses ($3.7 million/2011 and $807,000/2006, respectively), Sam’s piano from Casablanca ($3.4 million/2014), the Cowardly Lion suit from The Wizard of Oz ($3.1 million/2014), Von Trapp kids’ costumes from The Sound of Music ($1.5 million/2013), and Steve McQueen’s racing suit from LeMans ($984,000/2011), and one of four pairs of ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz ($666,000/2000).

In the science fiction genre, the artifact to beat was another robot–an R2-D2 that was pieced together from several screen-used components, which sold this past June for $2.76 million, and a Back to the Future III DeLorean time machine sold for $541,000 in 2011.  Robby easily nudged these props aside yesterday.  Would the sale price have been the same without the space car?  You’ll need to track down the anonymous telephone buyer to get the answer to that question (the four final bidders all dueled it out via phone bids), although you might keep an eye out at Paul Allen’s Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle, as this is the kind of high-end prop he has purchased in the past.

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For more than six years we at borg.com have been covering entertainment memorabilia auctions–sales of not merely replicas or mass-produced collectibles, but the real objects seen on film–rare or even one-of-a-kind costumes created by award-winning Hollywood costume designers, detailed props created by production crew, model vehicles created by special effects departments like Industrial Light and Magic, prosthetics created by famous makeup artists, set decoration, concept art, and much more.  Amassing a wide variety of artifacts from classic and more recent film and television history, London and Los Angeles-based Prop Store is hosting its annual auction later this month.  Known for its consignment of some of the most well-known and iconic screen-used props and costumes, Prop Store’s ultimate museum collectibles auction will be open for bidding from anyone, and items will be available at estimates for both beginning collectors and those with deeper pockets.

The Prop Store Live Auction: Treasures from Film and Television will be auctioning off approximately 600 items.  You’ll find the following movies and TV shows represented and more:  3:10 to Yuma (2007), 300, Aliens, Back to the Future films, Blade Runner, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Chronicles of Narnia films, Elysium, Enemy Mine, Excalibur, The Fifth Element, Gladiator, The Goonies, Gremlins 2: The New Batch, Jason and the Argonauts, Hellboy II: The Golden Army, the Indiana Jones films, Iron Man, the James Bond films, Judge Dredd (1995), the Jurassic Park films, Kick-Ass 2, Kingsman: the Secret Service, Lifeforce, Looper, The Lost Boys, The Martian, The Matrix, Men in Black III, Mission: Impossible (1996), The Mummy (1999), Patton, Pirates of the Caribbean series, Predators, the Rocky films, Saving Private Ryan, Scarface, Serenity, Shaun of the Dead, Shawshank Redemption, Sherlock Holmes (2009), Star Trek franchise, Star Wars franchise, Starship Troopers, Superman films, Terminator films, The Three Musketeers (1993), Tropic Thunder, Troy, True Grit, Underworld: Evolution, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Willow, The Wolfman (2010), World War Z, and the X-Men films.

You can flip through the auction house’s hefty 360-page catalog, or start with a look at what we selected as the best 50 of the lots–what we predict as the most sought-after by collectors and those that represent some of fandom’s favorite sci-fi and fantasy classics and modern favorites.

  • Industrial Light and Magic 17 3/4-inch Rebel Y-Wing filming model from Return of the Jedi
  • Sark (David Warner) Grid costume from the original Tron (1982)
  • Julie Newmar’s Catwoman costume and Burgess Meredith Penguin hat from the classic Batman TV series
  • Buttercup (Robin Wright) Fire Swamp red dress from The Princess Bride
  • Chekov (Walter Koenig) “nuclear wessels” costume, Dr. McCoy (DeForest Kelley) costume, and Sulu (George Takei) double shirt from Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
  • Full crew set of costumes (Malcolm, Zoe, Wash, Jayne, Inara, Kaylee, River, Book, and Simon) from Serenity (sold as individual costume lots)
  • Jack Nicholson purple Joker costume, plus separate coat and hat, from Batman (1989)
  • Enterprise-D 48-inch “pyro” model from Star Trek: The Next Generation
  • Will Munny (Clint Eastwood) stunt shotgun from Unforgiven
  • Star-lord helmet from Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Thor (Chris Hemsworth) Mjolnir hammer from Thor

  • Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II jumpsuits made for Bill Murray as Dr. Peter Venkman
  • Witch-king of Angmar crown from The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring
  • Val Kilmer Batman suit and cowl from Batman Forever
  • Maverick (Tom Cruise) flight suit from Top Gun
  • Geoffrey Rush Captain Barbossa costume from the first Pirates of the Caribbean film, Curse of the Black Pearl

And there are so many more.  Like…

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Robby the Robot.  He’s probably the only robot who has his own “Actor” page in the Internet Movie Database.  In the history of robots he is probably the most significant and the most game-changing robot of all time.  In the world of science fiction, few came before who achieved such fame, but many would follow.  Most who created the robots that came after–call them droids, androids and variants like fembots or even cyborgs, like the Terminator T-800, Cylons, and Cybermen, R2-D2 and C-3PO, and K-2So and BB-8–all can point back to Robby as inspiration and a critical step in the evolution of robots in cinema.  Robby would become a household name as a co-star and the focus of publicity for Forbidden Planet in 1956 (the classic sci-fi take on William Shakespeare’s The Tempest), and would go on to have guest appearances along with B-9 in Lost in Space, two episodes of The Twilight Zone, and all sorts of classic TV appearances (The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Hazel, Dobie Gillis, The Addams Family, Columbo, Wonder Woman, The Love Boat, Mork & Mindy), and later he can even be spotted in the movies Gremlins and Clueless. 

As pop culture is concerned, there is likely no single, intact, tangible piece of entertainment memorabilia in science fiction that compares to the robot prop itself, which doubled as a costume worn by Frankie Darrow and voiced by Marvin Miller.  The word “iconic” was created for the likes of Robby the Robot.  So no wonder our heads began to spin when it became public this month that the actual robot from the groundbreaking science fiction film Forbidden Planet was going to hit the auction block this year.  And unlike most auctions of original, screen-used, Hollywood memorabilia, Robby the Robot is being sold with a host of original materials used with the Robot throughout his incredible run, and from the auction photos it appears his light-up electronics are still functional.

Bonhams is the lucky auction house that will sell off Robby later this year, presented by Turner Classic Movies.  The auction house posted preview images from its catalog (expected to be available sometime in October) and it’s clear each accompanying production item in the photos could have been auctioned off separately in its own right.  All we know so far is the listing itself and photos, with no idea of the auction estimate or any other details that may be released, including its provenance:   “Robby the Robot from Forbidden Planet, together with Robby’s car, his alternative head, his control panel, and original MGM packing cases.  Also 2 rings for his head, 2 additional arms with pinschers, a stand, a harness, another part for the stand.”

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Earlier this season Hollywood Treasure, Syfy Channel’s “reality” series about auction house Profiles in History, featured the Dreier family collection of screenused props, costumes and nostalgic toys.   Back in June we reported that the auction house had announced the first part of the Dreier collection would hit the auction block July 28.  Chad Dreier and son Doug had amassed a broad collection of costumes and props after Chad’s company Ryland Homes was successfully turned into a multi-billion dollar enterprise. The collection itself covers a lot of bases of primarily movies from 2000 onward, with some key pieces from the 1970s and 1980s.  Saturday the first part of the collection resulted in a few good buys but mainly showed that the economy is doing fine for those with a lot of money.

So how did the lots that borg.com projected as key pieces fare?

First off was an exquisite original Chewbacca head/mask from the original Star Wars.  It had an auction estimate of $60,000 to $80,000 and I expected this would sell for at least triple that. Profiles called this “the finest screen-correct Chewbacca costume head from the Star Wars trilogy known to exist.”  So was I right?  The sale price including fees was $172,200.  Almost three times the estimate.  But this was an exception as most items in the auction sold in-line with auction estimates.

The Dreiers appeared to purchase everything they could get their hands on related to Gene Wilder’s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory from 1971. Their collection includes Wilder’s key outfit and hat and a bunch of lesser known but recognizable props and production ephemera. Wilder’s hat was expected to fetch between $20,000 and $30,000 and the costume $60,000 to $80,000.    The hat sold for $33,825  and the costume for $73,800.  An Oompa Loompa costume carried an estimate of $6,000 to $8,000.  Selling for $30,750, it showed how popular these characters still are today.

A Bob Keeshan costume from the 1960s had an estimate of $30,000 to $50,000.  It sold for $36,900.

An easily identifiable jacket of the type worn by Matthew Broderick as Ferris Bueller carried an estimate of $20,000 to $30,000.  It sold for $36,900.

The Dreiers were also fans of Christopher Reeve’s Superman from 1978.  One of the hero Reeves suits expected to sell between $60,000 to $80,000.  It sold for $79,850.  We featured the rarer costume worn by his father Jor-El, played by the great Marlon Brando, in our Comic-Con coverage here.

It had the same estimate as the Reeve suit, and sold similarly at $73,800.  Both fell in line with expectations.

The auction catalog cover featured an original set of cylon armor from Battlestar Galactica.  The suit carried an auction estimate of $40,000 to $60,000.  It sold for $46,125.

This outfit from the original series had an auction estimate of $12,000 to $15,000.  It sold for $17,220.

We also reported on this slick Wolverine costume in our Comic-Con coverage.  It had an estimate of $25,000 to $50,000 and sold for $49,200.

One sleeper item I noted was the original comic art for the Battlestar Galactica oversized comic book. With an estimate at only $2,000 to $3,000, I expected it to exceed $10,000.   Although it sold over its estimate, it didn’t make my prediction, selling at $4,305.

One other key piece sold at Profiles Saturday of note–a complete Star Trek: The Next Generation mannequin and costume of The Borg.  It was not ever for sale at auction before Profiles auctioned it in a recent auction of ex-Paley costumes, but was created by Michael Westmore’s actual production team for a museum collection once owned by The Paley Center.  It had an auction estimate of $8,000 to $12,000 and sold for just under $16,000.  I know of only three of these that are almost entirely complete and have heard a fourth example exists, but know of only one other complete from-head-to-toe version like this one.  These are the classic costumes of The Borg, not the later costumes that have deterioration problems and don’t look half as cool as these versions from “Best of Both Worlds” and “Descent”.  So it is awesome that one of these has surpassed prices for Star Trek captain uniforms, including, as in this auction, a Captain Picard costume worn by Patrick Stewart himself, which sold for $13,530.

Congratulations to the new owners of these great pieces of entertainment memorabilia!

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

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