What do Marilyn Monroe’s famous white dress from the Seven Year Itch, James Bond’s Aston Martin from Goldfinger and Mark Hamill’s lightsabre from the Empire Strike Back all have in common? They are all iconic movie props, of course. But they also are among the most expensive movie items ever sold at auction.
Sometimes these items are owned by the studios, but other times they are owned by lucky members of the public. Steve McQueen’s suit from the 1971 racing film, Le Mans, for example, was won by a then 12-year-old in a newspaper competition, who then went on to sell for almost $1 million forty years later.
Investing in art, and we maintain that these props are artworks, can be a tricking business, akin to playing a casino game like Kingdom slots with 200 free spins; namely, you cannot predict what will happen. Marilyn Monroe would not have known that the white dress she wore would one day sell for more than the budget of The Seven Year Itch.
But can we make a good stab at predicting which items from modern movies will be worth a lot in the years to come? Here are the five props we would love to have in a vault somewhere:
The Infinity Gauntlet – Avengers Endgame, Infinity War
The highest-grossing film in history has plenty of props that will likely end up as the most sought after movie memorabilia, including Thor’s hammer and Captain America’s shield. However, we’d most like to have the Infinity Gauntlet as an investment. While other items might be more iconic in Marvel fandom, Thanos’ gauntlet was the centrepiece of the story, and it will almost certainly be of huge value to collectors.
Jack Sparrow’s Effects – Pirates of the Caribbean
Despite its huge success, Pirates of the Caribbean doesn’t have the same kind of fandom as Star Wars or Marvel movies. Still, Johnny Depp’s portrayal of Captain Jack Sparrow is nevertheless highly iconic, driving the POTC movies forward even when the franchise lost its way. When it comes to props, fans might like to get their hands on the necklace with the cursed coin, as worn by Keira Knightly. But our preference would be for Jack Sparrow’s – as he calls them – “effects”, including his hat and gun (with one shot).
The Joker’s Wardrobe – The Dark Knight
When it comes to movie wardrobes, we can make a case for some modern outfits to rival the memorable costumes of the past. PT Barnum hat and suit in The Greatest Showman, the black outfits in The Matrix, and The Bride’s yellow tracksuit in Kill Bill all have claims, but Heath Ledger’s Joker outfit arguably outshines them all. The performance, for which he won a posthumous Oscar, will live long in the memory of movie fans, and the costumer – designed by Lindy Hemming – will surely be up there with the most iconic in moviedom.
The Elder Wand – The Harry Potter Series
A bit like The One Ring in Lord of the Rings, The Elder Wand changed ownership on several occasions, moving into the hands of heroes like Albus Dumbledore and villains like Lord Voldemort. Harry Potter memorabilia is, as you might expect, eminently collectable, and many years after the release of the books and films, young fans are still as obsessed as ever. There are lots of movie collectables, such as the Golden Snitch or Tom Riddle’s Diary, but we believe the powerful Elder Wand will be the one collectors will all seek in the years to come.
BB8 – Star Wars Sequel Trilogy
The designers of BB8, the amiable droid from the most recent Star Wars trilogy, obviously knew they had struck gold with their creation – as a toy version was available in shops from the moment The Force Awakens hit the cinemas. While there is a sense that BB8 doesn’t have the kind of organic popularity like its spiritual predecessor, R2-D2, the droid would nevertheless fetch quite a lot of money at auction, especially given Star Wars fans’ dedication to collecting everything in the galaxy.