Movie memorabilia: 2017 auction review

This was one of the best years on record for movie memorabilia. We saw several major records broken and strong results in categories from sci-fi to early classics.

Top movie memorabilia sale of 2017

Robby Robot

Robby the Robot became the second most valuable piece of movie memorabilia

We saw an extraordinary new record for a piece of movie memorabilia this year with the sale of Robby the Robot from sci-fi film Forbidden Planet for $5.3m.

It only just fell short of the overall movie record, still held by Marilyn Monroe’s Subway dress at $5.6m.

But the sale gives you an indication of Robby's enormous influence. It was, at the time, the most expensive prop ever constructed.

2017’s most important movie memorabilia sales

Saturday Night Fever

The Saturday Night Fever dance floor was installed in a club for many years

Saturday Night Fever’s famous dance floor is a character in its own right. Amazingly, it still exists! It was installed in a real life nightclub for many years. In June it went for $1m.

Marilyn Monroe’s relationship with acting coach Lee Strasberg is endlessly fascinating. One letter she wrote to him in 1961, as her life began to seriously unravel, realised $18,375 in February.

An Italian poster for Casablanca realised $478,000 at Heritage Auctions this year. That was movie poster world record…until it was edged out by a poster for Dracula a couple of weeks later.

Typically the biggest sums for movie memorabilia are reserved for classic films from before the 1980s. So it was nice to see a prop from recent blockbuster Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) sell for  a solid 134,200 ($179,731). Clearly there’s plenty of room at the top.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s made an icon of Audrey Hepburn. Her own script for the movie made £632,750 ($846,619) at Christie’s in September.

The most unusual movie memorabilia sale of 2017

Marlene Dietrich

Dietrich played the game to win

Ever heard of a short snorter? It’s actually a lot less dangerous then it sounds. In the early years of flight, passengers tended to be a well-heeled bunch. And there weren’t many of them. A popular game was to collect signatures from those on your flight. If you saw them again, and if you couldn’t produce said signature, you owed them a drink.

Legendary actor Marlene Dietrich was a big fan of this game. Her roll of autographs (aka a short snorter) sold for $5,000.

It was a breakout year for…


The world's most valuable movie poster

Film posters proved a huge hit at auction this year, with the highlight being a poster for classic 1931 horror Dracula. The lot realised a movie poster record $525,800. That just beat the the $478,000  record, set for the Casablanca poster mentioned earlier.

It was a year to forget for…

The Welsh drug dealer who was caught running a cannabis farm in a nuclear bunker. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the authorities sold off his extensive movie memorabilia collection for around £1m ($1.3m).

One you may have missed

Only Fools

This van is one of several used on the show

This garish yellow van is probably not that well known outside the UK, but here it’s one of the stars of Only Fools and Horses - one of the nation’s most popular sitcoms. This screen-used specimen made $54,500 in November.

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