Film memorabilia is a term used to describe items that are valuable because of their link to the movie. Costumes, props, commercial posters, as well as screenplays are just a few examples. Fans had long treasured memorabilia, however in recent years, whatever began as just a hobby has grown into a multibillion-dollar industry, involving millions of dollars changing hands at auctions organised by renowned businesses such as Christie’s and Sotheby’s. In addition, many popular movies’ collectables are offered through independent, online movie memorabilia businesses, web auctions, as well as charity events hosted by movie producers.
The majority of individuals wanted signatures, original images, or posters inside the beginning. Collectors would have to rely on a few news journals full of various dealers providing mail-order catalogues or requesting bulk amounts or specific items of interest. Sometimes, events centred on such a live auction would’ve been held; these, albeit fewer in number now, still happen, and memorabilia could still be purchased in person through trusted vendors on-site. The society too was rather dispersed, with collectors as well as dealers dispersed around the globe and also no constant and dependable means of communication.
“Generally seeing the material as rubbish taking up precious backlot real estate,” movie companies were hesitant to understand the worth of their property. Workers would frequently steal mementoes or sell stuff without permission, knowing that their superiors were unconcerned. Kent Warner, a customer who built a vast private collection and made money selling it to interested customers, was one of the most well-known of them. Warner allegedly saved Humphrey Bogart’s Casablanca trench coat from being burned, according to one of his pals.
In 1970, a watershed moment occurred. The year-earlier, Kirk Kerkorian had purchased MGM and appointed James Thomas Aubrey, Jr. as president.
MGM sold the assets of seven sound stages to auctioneer David Weisz “for just a pittance of $1.5 million.” The outfits alone numbered almost 350,000. Weisz enlisted the services of Kent Warner to categorise as well as prepare the auction. Warner discovered numerous pairs of such ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz while working. One pair has become the event’s focal point, selling for the then-unheard-of $15,000 each (Warner kept or sold an unknown number of other pairs).
Debbie Reynolds, an actress, spent $180,000 and “bought hundreds of things,” the start of her extensive collection. “From eager nostalgia fans,” Weisz “recouped eight times” what he paid.
The subway gown sold for $4.6 million on June 18, 2011, greatly above pre-auction forecasts of $1–2 million. Another Monroe gown from the film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes sold for $1.2 million; it was projected to sell for $200,000 to $300,000. A blue cotton garment worn by Judy Garland in test shots for The Wizard of Oz, which was valued between $60,000 to 80,000, sold for $910,000. The sale brought in a total of $22.8 million.
On December 3, 2011, a still-working Panavision PSR 35mm camera used to shoot Star Wars sold for $625,000 in the second Reynolds auction, smashing records for Star Wars memorabilia and antique equipment.