Fans of some of the biggest blockbusters from the past decades will soon be able to recreate their favourite scenes at home as nearly 1,000 pieces of movie memorabilia go on sale in an online auction.
Iconic items up for grabs in the “Prop Store Entertainment Memorabilia Live Auction” in early December include the thigh-high glossy patent leather boots worn by Julia Roberts in “Pretty Woman”, Tom Cruise’s “Top Gun” bomber jacket, a remote-control R2-S8 Droid from “Star Wars: Solo: A Star Wars Story” and a special effects mechanical alien head from the 1979 hit movie “Alien”.
The artefacts in the annual auction have been carefully selected and hunted down by Prop Store founder and CEO Stephen Lane through his network of filmmakers, cast and crew members, production companies, distributors and collectors.
“I started Prop Store out of my passion for collecting and so it’s all about the hunt,” Lane told Reuters in his company’s warehouses in the town of Rickmansworth, just outside London, where he is getting ready for his big sale.
“A lot of these artefacts are just thrown away at the end of production or certainly used to be. They were just disposed of or sold off. And that meant they just went to the four winds,” Lane said, adding he was already “scratching his head” over the sourcing of next year’s catalogue.
Some of the key items on this year’s list turned up unexpectedly.
As he was building the collection, Lane, a passionate “Star Wars” fan, visited a senior crew member who had laid out his treasure trove of props from the sci-fi series in his house. Taking a tea break, Lane caught sight of another piece of movie magic.
“And he said ‘yeah, you know, well just right behind you there is the David Bowie crystal ball that he uses in ‘Labyrinth’ and I was like ‘the crystal ball from ‘Labyrinth’ is sitting right there’! And we’d spent like three hours up in one room looking at all the ‘Star Wars’ and downstairs, and it was a piece he just didn’t think anybody was going to be interested, and I was like ‘that’s the cherry right there’.”
“It was a real moment for me. That’s the real excitement of what I do,” Lane said of the crystal ball, which is estimated to sell for £10,000 – 15,000.
In total, more than 900 items from over 350 films and television shows will be auctioned in the two-day sale.
Highlights – or “cherry pieces” as Lane calls them – include Obi-Wan Kenobi’s Hero Lightsaber from “Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith”, estimated at £80,000 – 120,000, Jack Nicholson’s Joker’s Fedora from the 1989 movie “Batman”, estimated at £20,000 – 30,000, James Bond’s MI6 Training Suit from “Skyfall”, estimated at £15,000 – 20,000 and Buck Russell’s (John Candy) Bowling Ball from “Uncle Buck”, estimated at £5,000 – 7,000.
“I also love the ‘Uncle Buck’ bowling ball. Material from his films is incredibly hard to find. I’ve literally seen practically nothing ever come to market previously. And so it’s one of those pieces that as it’s got his name Buck Russell on there and it’s used in a really key scene, I think it’s a lot of fun, it displays really well, and it’s something that I’m really, really fond of,” said Lane.
Other key items include the red leather jacket worn by Brad Pitt in the 1999 “Fight Club”, estimated at £20,000 – 30,000, Captain Jack Sparrow’s pirate hat from “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides”, estimated at £10,000 – 15,000 and the helmet worn by Tom Hanks in “Saving Private Ryan”, signed by the actor, his co-stars and the film’s director Steven Spielberg, estimated at £10,000 – 15,000.
Tom Cruise’s Pete “Maverick” Mitchell “Top Gun” bomber jacket is estimated at £12,000 -16,000, the “Pretty Woman” boots at £10,000 – 15,000, the alien head at £40,000 – 60,000 and the light-up remote-control R2-S8 Droid at £40,000 – 60,000.
Among the top valued lots is also the complete costume for Keanu Reeves’ character Neo from the 2003 film “The Matrix Reloaded”, which is estimated at £40,000 – 60,000.
“The consideration is how many of these are out there and available to buy,” said Lane.
“So, for example, something like Neo’s costume from ‘The Matrix’ that we have available is one of only maybe one or two complete costumes that Warner Brothers ever released from the film. So, there might have been a rail of 20 for them for filming. Some of those might have been disposed of, some of those might have gotten, been damaged, but very, very few and far are in private hands. So a lot of the examples that we sell are unique and individual,” he said.
The catalogue also includes offers for those with a more limited budget – with items such as the snakeskin suit worn by Bill Nighy in “Love Actually” and Will Smith’s “Bad Boys II” beanie hat estimated to sell for £400 each and a “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” poster signed by Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint estimated at £300.
The sale and client viewings prior to it would normally take place in central London but the coronavirus pandemic means the majority of the action this year takes place online or in the Prop Store warehouses.
Registration for the sale will take place online and online proxy bids can be submitted when the auction catalogue goes online on October 29.
The pandemic has had an unexpected effect on interest in movie memorabilia, said Lane.
“The amount of views on our auctions have been absolutely through the roof this year,” he said.
“What we put that down to is the fact that people just really aren’t entertaining. They’re not travelling, they’re not moving around,” he said, adding “and I think the other thing is the uncertainty with both the money markets, with stocks and shares, there’s no interest rates in banks as well, so, people are looking for something tangible to put their money into as some form of an investment.”
According to Lane, the total auction estimate for the approximately 900 items sits between £4-5,5 million.
The auction will be held via livestream on December 1 and 2, 2020 from 1400gmt.
(Production: Hanna Rantala, Gerhard Mey)