ByChloe Gale, writer at
"I'm not just selling the script. I'm selling me!"
Chloe Gale

There are two words synonymous with Hollywood glamor and sex appeal and they are of course, Marilyn Monroe – a true cinematic legend who still lives on today through her movies, photos and public scandal stories.

Marilyn's costumes have naturally attracted much attention from press, fans and collectors too. The most recent pieces of her clothing to be auctioned off is her 'Happy Birthday, Mr President' dress, which she allegedly had to be sewn into because it was so tight. The squeeze of the dress gave her voice that sexy breathiness we associate with that performance. Watch the video below as Monroe charms the socks off everyone in the audience.

The dress pictured below oozes sex appeal and glitz and we can't wait to see who the lucky person who gets their hands on this piece is:

Following the news of the imminent sale, I thought it would be the perfect time to look back at some of Hollywood's biggest sales in terms of costumes and props. You will not believe the amount of money people are willing to part with to get their hands on a piece of movie history.

The Most Expensive Pieces Of Movie Memorabilia Ever Sold

1. Audrey Hepburn's Givenchy Gown From Breakfast At Tiffany's

  • Auctioned: Christie's of London in 2006
  • Selling price: $923,187
  • Buyer: Unknown

Holly Golightly's timeless look has been copied a thousand times over by women all around the world. The dress has come to symbolize elegance, sophistication and a understated wealth. It's no surprise then that the item raised so much money at auction.

The gown was sold to raise money for the construction of a school in Calcutta. However, the dress sold was not actually the one worn by Hepburn in the movie. The classic piece of clothing we saw on screen was a replica created by Edith Head, the legendary costume designer. Givenchy designed two dresses for Hepburn for the film, but due to a very high thigh slit the movie producers wouldn't use them. Head then had to replicate the Givenchy dress and make it more appropriate for audiences of the time. The dress sold was the original from the French designer and was also worn by Oscar winner Natalie Portman in Harper's Bazaar in 2006.

2. Judy Garland's Ruby Slippers From The Wizard Of Oz

  • Auctioned: Five pairs in total existed – four have been auctioned and one pair was stolen
  • Selling price: Between $15,000 and $666,000
  • Buyers: Anthony Landini, David Elkouby, Philip Samuels, Debbie Reynolds

There are many disputes about the authenticity of the ruby slippers that have been sold over the past 45 years. Employees of the MGM Studios claim that five pairs were created and worn by Garland and the Wicked Witch of the East during filming. Costumer Kent Warner took it upon himself to simply take a pair from the wardrobe department, as back in the day no-one imaged they would have any worth. It was during the liquidation of MGM that costumes and movie props amassed by the studio started to really gain interest and value.

The slippers on display in the Smithsonian
The slippers on display in the Smithsonian

The first pair to be auctioned was sold for $15,000 and they now reside at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington. The next pair of shoes that surfaced were owned by Roberta Bauman, a Tennessee housewife who had allegedly won a pair of the slippers in a movie contest. In 1988, Christie's of London auctioned Roberta's pair to Anthony Landini for a whopping $165,000. Landini then worked closely with Disney to have them put on display in Disney World at the beginning of the Great Movie Ride.

However in 2000, Landini auctioned the shoes off (again with Christie's) to buyer David Elkouby who paid a tear-inducing $666,000 plus the buyer's premium. This pair finally found a home in his Hollywood memorabilia store, Elkouby and Co.

Watch the video documentary clip below that explains the sadness and the collapse of The Wizard Of Oz studios and the mystery surrounding the famous ruby slippers:

The pair of shoes Kent Warner took from the closet turned out to be the ones in the best condition. These slippers were auctioned by Christie's for $12,000 and were promptly bought Philip Samuels for $165,000. Samuels used the shoes to raise money for children's charities and, although he was offered $3million for them at on point, he wouldn't sell. That is until he was approached by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, where they offered him an undisclosed sum for the shoes. Reports have shown that both Leonardo DiCaprio and Stephen Spielberg donated personal money to secure the purchase of this particular pair.

Movie legend Debbie Reynolds had a peculiar pair of ruby slippers that had an Arabian curl to the toes. They were part of her own huge memorabilia collection for a very long time (more on that later). However, the Singin' In The Rain star parted ways with the shoes making over $510,000 at auction.

Debbie Reynolds' Arabian curl slippers
Debbie Reynolds' Arabian curl slippers

For those of you who would like to get their hands on a pair of these legendary slippers, there is still a set out there in the world. They were stolen from the Judy Garland Museum in 2005 and have yet to be found. In 2015, there was a reward of $1 million offered for their safe return.

I don't know which I'd prefer, the cash or the shoes? So if you do the math, the five pairs of shoes (including the reward money) have earned over $2.5 million, a sum that would have definitely have bought Dorothy a ticket back from Oz.

3. Luke's Lightsaber From Star Wars: A New Hope

  • Auctioned: Profiles In History in 2008
  • Selling price: Just over $240,000
  • Buyers: Unknown

Originally owned by Star Wars producer Gary Kurtz, this movie prop was auctioned off for a huge sum in 2008. As for who exactly spent so much on the lightsaber – well that's still unknown.

Perhaps he was just fulfilling a childhood dream, because who didn't want to be a Jedi when they were younger? The original lightsaber as used by actor Mark Hamil was made from an old flashgun, not bad for a bit of D.I.Y.

4. James Bond's Gun From Dr No

  • Auctioned: Christie's of London, December 5, 2010
  • Selling Price: $106,202
  • Buyer: Unknown

Dr No was Sean Connery's Bond debut, so it wasn't a shock that his gun would draw much attention. 007 was assigned a Walther PPK. 7.65 mil, but in fact in the movie he was using a longer-barreled Walther PP chambered in .380 ACP gun. However, the most famous gun of the movie is a FN Model 1910 with a suppressor that Bond uses to kill Professor Dent.

The gun pictured above sold for a huge sum and was bought by an anonymous source. You can't really blame them for paying quite so much though as James Bond is the coolest spy around, and Connery in my personal opinion is the quintessential 007.

5. Marilyn Monroe's 'Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend' Dress From Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

  • Auctioned: Profiles In History, June 2010
  • Selling price: $314,000
  • Buyer: Unknown

Yet another one of Marilyn's dresses sold for a very handsome sum indeed. The hot pink number that clung to her enviable curves was featured in the song "Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend" from the 1953 musical Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. The look has been replicated by many other great ladies since, including Madonna, Kylie Minogue and even Barbie. There's no denying that Monroe as Lorelei Lee gave us all dress and sugar daddy goals in this shocking pink gown.

See also:

7. Maria Von Trapp's Pinafore From The Sound Of Music

  • Auctioned: Profiles In History For Debbie Reynolds, 2013
  • Selling price: $1.56million
  • Buyer: Unknown

The iconic twirl on the top of the mountain at the start of The Sound Of Music was the reason this dress raked in so much cash at auction. The costume worn by Julie Andrews in the biggest movie musical of all time had an absolutely tiny waist of around 16"-18" inches, which makes you wonder just how exactly she hit those notes with such tiny lungs.

The authenticity of the costumes have received much critical praise as wardrobe mistress, Dorothy Jeakins, made everything as it would have been made in the '30s. Jeakins used buttons instead of zips to ensure that the cast were really dressed as they should have been.

The other costumes featured in the Rogers and Hammerstein classic have also gone on to win big at auction. In fact, the entire collection of pieces made over $4 million when sold off. Not bad for an old pair of curtains, eh?

8. The Terminator Arm From The Terminator

  • Auctioned: Heritage Auctions
  • Selling Price: TBC
  • Buyer: Unsold

The Terminator is an absolute classic within its genre and the robot is of course synonymous with the movie. The first film pre-dates the stylized CGI technology we are used to seeing in modern cinema. Therefore, the T-800 had to be mechanized with animatronics, stop-motion photography and make-up prosthetics. There were only two full Terminators created for the movie and the arm up for auction was one created for the pipe bomb explosion at the very end. For those sci-fi fans out there, you'll be happy to know that this piece is still available, so get bidding. Just think how cool it would be to wave goodbye with the Terminator arm while shouting "I'll be back."

9. Charlie's Chaplin's Bowler Hat From Various Movies

  • Auctioned: Debbie Reynolds Collection, May 2014
  • Selling price: $135,500
  • Buyer: Unknown

It doesn't get more classic Hollywood than Chaplin. The silent movie star is instantly recognizable by his hat, mustache and cane. Therefore, it was obvious that the black bowler the cheeky chap wore in so many films would fetch a rather tasty sum at auction. The hat was part of the Debbie Reynolds's collection, but when she closed her museum in 2014, everything had to go, including the hat. It was originally estimated to make $20,000, but it beat that price five times over.

Debbie Reynolds's Movie Memorabilia Museum

Debbie admiring her 'Good Morning' costume from the movie Singin' In The Rain
Debbie admiring her 'Good Morning' costume from the movie Singin' In The Rain

Ultimately, we couldn't list the biggest movie auctions of all time and miss out Debbie Reynolds. The Hollywood star collected a vast array of memorabilia over the past fifty years. After the collapse of the studio system, which meant that all the costumes, props and sets used during the golden age of Hollywood were sold off, Debbie sought to preserve as much of it as physically possible. The Singin' In The Rain legend parted with thousand and thousands of dollars to ensure that these items wouldn't be trashed and the memories of a lost era forgotten forever. It was in 2014 however, that Debbie decided enough was enough and sold the lot in the biggest movie auction ever:

Debbie is a great credit to the magic and history of cinema – what I wouldn't give to get my hands on some of those costumes!

There are of course hundreds of cinematic items that are auctioned off weekly, but there's no denying these items listed are some of the most expensive and iconic the silver screen has ever seen.


Which Hollywood item would you like to get your hands on?

(Sources: Profiles In History, Showbiz 411, Julien's Auctions, gizmodo, American History, Heritage Auctions)


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