When it comes to films and television series, some are notorious for dishing out loads of money on various props, set, and costumes for characters. People are even willing to purchase items for loads of money at an auction.
The set of Ben Hur cost the studio a whopping $1 million, while The Seven Year Itch dress was later sold at auction for $4.6 million! Amazingly, those pieces of cinematic history aren’t even the most expensive items on this list.
The Seven Year Itch White Subway Dress: $4.6 Million
Marilyn Monroe was a pop culture icon, with her character in The Seven Year Itch being one of the most notable images of the 20th century. In the frame, Monroe is standing over a subway grate while her white dress flies in the air.
That iconic dress was sold at a 2011 auction for a whopping $4.6 million.
Casablanca, The Piano: $3.4 million
The classic tale of Casablanca transpires primarily in Rick’s Café Américain. There, viewers watch as Sam plays the piano for guests. While it might just look like an ordinary piano, it is a piece of cinematic history that people want to own.
In 2017, one buyer showed just how much they were willing to spend on the piano, buying it for $3.4 million.
The Maltese Falcon, Maltese Falcon Statuette: $4.1 Million
A noir classic with a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, The Maltese Falcon follows the story of a detective tasked with finding a valuable statuette, a Maltese falcon. Amazingly, the 45-pound statue is quite valuable.
In 2014, someone purchased the statue. According to NPR, “The final price on the 12-inch-tall prop was $4,085,000, which includes a buyer’s premium.”
Forbidden Planet, Robby The Robot: $5.37 Million
In the 1956 film Forbidden Planet, Robby the Robot became one of the first-ever onscreen robots that were something more than a tin can-type being. He became an icon; people were willing to spend a lot of money to own.
In 2017, Robby the Robot became the most expensive movie prop to be sold at auction, selling for a cool $5.37 million.
The Highway In Matrix Reloaded: $2.5 Million
Fans of the Matrix franchise might recall a certain highway scene in the sequel film, Matrix Reloaded. While it looks like an ordinary highway, it was actually constructed at an abandoned military base.
As one might guess, it was not a cheap project. The highway cost the studio $2.5 million.
Star Wars, Luke’s Lightsaber: $240,000
One of the most iconic props in the Star Wars franchise is the lightsabers, namely the one used by Luke Skywalker. The first laser sword Skywalker owns is blue and seen throughout A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back.
This particular lightsaber was purchased by someone at auction for $240,000.
The Ruby Slippers From The Wizard Of Oz: $690,000
The ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz are among some of the most treasured film memorabilia in history. While Dorothy wears silver slippers in the novel, the studio took advantage of the new technicolor process, changing the color to ruby red.
Five known pairs of the slippers exist, with director Victor Fleming selling one pair for $690,000.
The Ben-Hur Movie Set: $1 Million
In 1959, Ben-Hur became the costliest film ever produced, with a budget of $15 million. The elaborate scenes, such as the chariot races and battle at sea, were no small feat.
By the time of filming, the 340-acre film set cost the studio a whopping $1 million (and that wasn’t even including costumes!).
The Dukes of Hazzard‘s General Lee Dodge Charger: $450,000
Aside from the quirky character in The Dukes of Hazard television series, fans might remember something else — the beautiful 1969 General Lee Dodge Charger. With a unique-sounding horn and a pristine paint job, actor John Schneider couldn’t help but bring the car home with him.
Later, the iconic car was sold at auction for $450,000.
The Spy Who Loved Me, Lotus Submarine Car: $860,000
The Lotus submarine car, also known as Wet Nellie, in The Spy Who Loved Me was widely praised as a genius James Bond gadget. In 2013, the vehicle was purchased by Elon Musk for $860,000.
Musk’s plans for the car were to rebuild the fictional dual-purpose car and create an actual dual-purpose car.
The Flying Car From Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: $805,000
For the 1968 film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Ken Adam designed the flying, amphibious car. Fully functional, the car is one of a kind. In 2011, the original car was sold at auction and was bought by none other than director Peter Jackson.
He coughed up a whopping $805,000 to own the piece of cinematic history.
Steve McQueen’s Racing Suit In Le Mans: $984,000
When Steve McQueen first stepped foot on a race track in Le Mans, he wore a red, white, and blue-striped jumpsuit. The racing suit has since been sold a few times since the film’s release.
The first time it was sold at auction for $155,000 but has since been sold for a whopping $984,000.
My Fair Lady, Ascot dress: $3.7 Million
In the 1964 film My Fair Lady, Audrey Hepburn’s Eliza Doolittle dons a lace-filled white dress, matching umbrella, and a statement hat. The Ascot dress is now an iconic costume in Hollywood, with people willing to pay big bucks to own the masterpiece.
In 2011, a buyer paid $3.7 million for the privilege of owning the dress.
Breakfast At Tiffany’s, The Little Black Dress: $923,18
Audrey Hepburn wore a classic little black dress in the rom-com Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The form-fitting sleeveless dress paved the way for the popularity of the "LBD." People fell in love with her little black Givenchy dress, so much that people were willing to spend top dollars for it.
At auction, the dress sold for $923,18, and the money went towards building a school in Calcutta.
Superman, Christopher Reeve’s Costume: $115,000
Even though Christopher Reeve was paid mere pennies compared to some of his Superman costars, fans loved his character enough to spend big money for his super-suit.
In 2007, Reeve’s Superman suit was auctioned off and purchased for a nice sum of $115,000. Then, in 2019, the Man of Steel’s cape sold for $193,750.
Thor: Ragnarok, Valkyrie’s Wig: $10,000
When filming Thor: Ragnarok, Tessa Thompson’s character Valkyrie sports an expensive prop on her head, a wig that cost $10,000! There was a reason behind the pricey wig, though.
At the time of reshoots, Thompson was scheduled to work on another film, one that had her donning short, orange curls. Clearly, the look didn’t fit with her MCU character, and they opted for the pricey wig.
The Titanic Movie Set: $20 Million
James Cameron wasn’t messing around when he began constructing the set for his 1997 film Titanic. Instead of using model boats, Cameron used the original blueprints and created an actual liner.
From there, he stuck the ship in a tank filled with 17 million gallons of seawater. The entire set cost him a staggering $20 million.
The Cowardly Lion Costume From The Wizard Of Oz: $3 Million
In 1939, the world was introduced to an unlikely friend group of Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tinman, and the Cowardly Lion. The latter’s costume is arguably one of the most recognizable in cinema and was brought to a Bonhams auction house in 2014.
There, the costume was sold for $3 million.
The Sound of Music’s Do-Re-Mi Outfits: $1.5 Million
Fans of The Sound of Music might remember when Julie Andrews’s Maria is singing "Do-Re-Mi" to the Von Trapp family on the top of a mountain. In the scene, the kids wear custom green and cream floral outfits sewn together by Maria.
Well, these iconic costumes were actually sold at auction for a whopping $1.5 million.
The Volcano HQ In You Only Live Twice: $1 Million
In 1967, production designer Ken Adam was brought in to work on the James Bond film You Only Live Twice. His task: to create an elaborate volcano HQ for the SPECTRE team.
To perfect his design for the secret lair, including operative heliport and monorail, Adam and his team spent a whopping $1 million.