Celebrity Memorabilia That Sold For Unbelievable Prices

The following article references suicide.

Loyal fans will purchase just about any item that has to do with their idol, whether it's a special edition book, signed poster, or limited pressing of a vinyl, while other devotees will go as far as spending hundreds of dollars to get a drawing of their favorite celebrity inked on their skin. And then, there are the fanatics that will pony up serious cash to have something that was previously used by a celeb. Take the tissue that actor Scarlett Johansson blew into during an appearance on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" that was, as the BBC noted, put on eBay and sold for $5,300 with the proceeds going to charity, for example. Or how about when, as EW reported, *NSYNC superfan Kathy Summers paid $1,025 for Justin Timberlake's half-eaten French toast?

It goes to show that fans are willing to splurge when it comes to owning something that has to do with their favorite stars. But there are also the high-rollers who would shell out a mind-blowing amount of dough to have something that was once used or owned by a celebrity, and we're not talking about a snotty tissue. From luxurious diamonds to classic cars to legendary garments, fans have opened their wallets and spent unbelievable prices for celebrity memorabilia. 

Princess Diana's 1981 Ford Escort Ghia Saloon zoomed on over to the auction

After Prince Charles proposed to then-Lady Diana Spencer in 1981, he gifted her with a 1981 Ford Escort Ghia Saloon, per the Daily Mail. Lady Di used her new ride quite often, with the outlet noting that the People's Princess "often drove it to watch Charles play polo." Following Princess Diana's death, an "antiques dealer" scooped up the car. In 2021, they decided to part ways with the vehicle and had it auctioned off at Reeman Dansie Auction House. The car had an asking price between $40,000 to $50,000, but it ended up going for $65,000.

The Daily Mail also reported that the U.K. collector who put the car up for auction "drove it only sparingly without disclosing its history to her friends" and maintained its registration "as well as its original paint and upholstery." What makes the vehicle even more unique is the frog that sits on the hood of the car, a gift from Princess Diana's sister, Lady Sarah Spencer, "to remind her of the fairytale of a girl whose kiss turns a frog into a prince." 

Princess Diana and Prince Charles wed on July 29, 1981, at St. Paul's Cathedral in front of over 2,000 guests. However, they went on to divorce in 1996 after a number of highly publicized trials and tribulations.

Audrey Hepburn's personal script for Breakfast at Tiffany's was a big hit

Aubrey Hepburn was a beloved actor who did more than just appear in some of the most memorable films of all time. The "Breakfast at Tiffany's" star was also known for her humanitarian work and devoted a lot of her time to UNICEF as a Goodwill Ambassador. What's more, she was a style icon whose effortless and timeless fashion sense remains as influential as ever.

In 2017, Christie's in London auctioned off several items belonging to Hepburn in a collection called "Audrey Hepburn: The Personal Collection." As the Christie's website recounted, items like her Givenchy couture cocktail dress that she famously wore in "Charade" went for $91,988, while her painting titled "My Garden Flowers" was sold for an astounding $300,715.

However, the most coveted item at auction was Hepburn's personal script for 1961's "Breakfast at Tiffany's" which included her own annotations and deleted scenes. The script sold for a stunning $846,619, an amount that, as the Christie's site noted, "soars over seven times the pre-sale estimate." So who paid nearly $1 million for the script? According to Time, it was fittingly purchased by the famous jewelry company Tiffany & Co. 

Kim Kardashian gifted North with Michael Jackson memorabilia

Kim Kardashian and Kanye West clearly have no problem shelling out for seriously unique gifts when North, Saint, Psalm, and Chicago's birthdays roll around. When North West turned six years old, instead of buying her dolls or stuffed animals, Kardashian bought her eldest child not one, but two items worn by the King of Pop at Julien's Auctions' Icons And Idols: Rock N' Roll event in 2019.

According to E! News, the "Keeping Up With the Kardashians" star shared on Instagram that she and West gifted North a custom black velvet jacket that Michael Jackson wore to one of Elizabeth Taylor's birthday parties and to the premiere of his short film "Ghosts." The jacket features rhinestone detailing had been altered to fit North. It was sold to the reality star for $65,625. Kardashian said about the purchase on her Instagram Stories, "North is a really big Michael Jackson fan and we knew she would love this."

People reported that Kardashian was also the highest bidder for Jackson's white fedora that he wore in his "Smooth Criminal" music video in 1988. She showed the hat on her Instagram Stories and shared that it still had the late King of Pop's makeup on it. 

Michael Jordan's Nikes keep bringing in the big bucks

Michael Jordan is regarded as the best NBA player of all time, so it isn't shocking that a pair of Nike Air Jordan 1s worn by the basketball star in the '80s auctioned off for a pretty penny. As Sotheby's announced in a press release, the black and white and red and signed all over sneakers went for a whopping $560,000 in May 2020, setting the record for most expensive pair of shoes sold at an auction.  

Fittingly, a different set of shoes from Jordan's collection took that personally and one-upped the aforementioned pair of Air Jordan 1s. As CNN noted in August of 2020, another pair of his Air Jordan 1s went for $615,000. As a Christie's rep told the outlet, "It is the top price achieved for sneakers at auction."

That was the same year ESPN released "The Last Dance," a miniseries about Jordan's final season with the Chicago Bulls. And as MarketWatch pointed out, the doc "led to a spike in interest in Michael Jordan memorabilia." Of course, the demand was high long before the series aired. As Brandon Steiner of CollectibleXchange told MarketWatch, "He lifted sport licensing onto a legitimate level. It was practically nothing before he got into the game."

Elizabeth Taylor's jewelry collection reached over $100 million

Elizabeth Taylor was known for her love of luxurious diamonds and jewels and had a significant jewelry collection that was later put up for auction at Christie's New York in 2011. According to BBC, 80 items of the late actor's were auctioned off with the entire collection having been estimated to raise about $20 million. However, the collection, which featured some of her most coveted items including her "famous 33.19-carat diamond ring, given to her by Richard Burton" and a 16th-century pearl necklace, smashed the existing record when it raked in $116 million.

Taylor married a total of eight times, and two of those marriages happened to be to Richard Burton, a fellow actor who happened to shower her with "awe-inspiring gifts," including the historic pearl, per Biography. It was reported by Christie's that the pearl was once owned by multiple Spanish kings and Joseph Bonaparte, the older brother of Napoleon Bonaparte. With the help of Cartier, Taylor had a necklace made up of rubies and diamonds for the pearl and was estimated to sell at auction for $2 million to $3 million, but hit $11.8 million and "surpassed the previous auction record for a pearl," per BBC. As for Taylor's stunning diamond ring, Insider reported that it was originally estimated to go for $2.5 million to $3.5 million, but sold for $8.8 million.

Per Insider, the extensive collection also featured diamond brooches, an emerald and diamond Bvlgari necklace, and a diamond tiara given by her late husband Mike Todd. 

Judy Garland's ruby slippers are a coveted movie prop

Judy Garland had a long and impressive acting career, but no role was greater and more memorable than Dorothy Gale in 1939's "The Wizard of Oz." Several items from the iconic film have sold at auction, including jackets worn by the Munchkins, an "Emerald City Honor Guard" trumpet musket, and Dorothy's gingham pinafore dress. However, no one item from the classic film has ever sold for as high a price as Dorothy's ruby red slippers. According to the Guinness World Records, Garland's slippers sold at Christie's New York auction in 2000 for $666,000, becoming the most expensive shoes from a movie sold at auction.

Per Smithsonian Magazine, there are only four known pairs of ruby slippers still around. According to the outlet, a costumer happened to find all four, including one "which looks different and was used only in screen tests, and sold it to the late actress Debbie Reynolds, reportedly for $300." In 2005, a pair had actually been stolen from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, but after 13 years, the shoes were recovered by the Minneapolis FBI after following several leads throughout the years, per USA Today

Olivia Newton-Johns' skintight pants went from Grease to Spanx

When actor Olivia Newton-John's character Sandy showed off her skin-tight black pants and leather jacket ensemble to John Travolta's Danny Zuko in the classic film "Grease," jaws dropped left and right. The iconic 1978 film is a favorite among many moviegoers, including Spanx founder Sara Blakely, who bought Newton-John's exact pants at auction.

As CBS News noted, Blakely scooped up the famous pants at Julien's Auctions in California in 2019 for over $162,000 and had plans to display them at the Spanx headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. Talking with the outlet about her new purchase, Blakley shared, "I have been the biggest fan of Olivia since I was a little girl, since 'Grease' came out, and my friend called me two days before the auction. I didn't know it was happening ... and I thought, 'Oh my God. I've got to try to get these.'" 

As the founder of the biggest shapewear line, Blakely was destined to own the skintight pants — so tight, in fact, that Newton-John actually had to be sewn into them, per The Hollywood Reporter. "I'm going to frame them and hang them at Spanx because we have black faux leather leggings ... they have become a cult following  and they're inspired off of Olivia's pants so you know she's the OG of black leggings," Blakely shared with CBS News.

Marilyn Monroe's Happy Birthday Mr. President dress went for millions

Hundreds of items belonging to iconic actor Marilyn Monroe have been sold over the years, with a bulk of her possessions from her estate auctioned off at Christie's in 1999 at an event called "The Sale of the Century," per The Marilyn Monroe Collection. As the site detailed, Monroe's furs, furniture, makeup, and more brought in around $13 million. 

The crown jewel of the event was not a piece of jewelry. According to the Collection's website, the glimmering dress that she wore while singing "Happy Birthday" to former President John F. Kennedy in 1962 sold for nearly $1.3 million. At the time, it was the most expensive dress to ever be auctioned, and it was later sold again in 2016 at Julien's Auctions for $4.8 million, per The Guardian. Believe it or not, the buyer was Ripley's Believe It or Not, and the company put the garment on display for a limited time.

After winning the dress, Ripley's vice president Edward Meyer shared with the Press Association (via The Guardian), "We believe this is the most iconic piece of pop culture that there is. In the 20th century, I cannot think of one single item that tells the story of the 1960s as well as this dress. It's a new world record for a dress."

Kate Winslet's iconic Titanic dress is the king of the auction

It's hard to imagine another actor portraying Rose DeWitt Bukater in director James Cameron's 1997 hit movie "Titanic" other than Kate Winslet. According to MTV News, while Cameron did not confirm or deny the news, rumors have swirled that Rose was supposed to be played by Gwyneth Paltrow, while Leonardo DiCaprio's Jack Dawson could've gone to Matthew McConaughey. However, both Winslet and DiCaprio got the roles and it would change their lives forever, becoming two of the most well-known actors in Hollywood. 

In addition to catapulting Winslet's career, "Titanic" became one of the highest-grossing movies ever, bringing in a lifetime gross of over $2 billion, right behind "Avengers: Endgame" and Cameron's "Avatar." The movie is beloved by so many people so it's no surprise that when memorabilia from the film was put up for auction, several of its items ended up going for a lot.

According to Paul Fraser Collectibles, the iconic red dress Rose wore when meeting Jack for the first time sold for a casual $330,000 when auctioned off in California. In 2016, Winslet's pink dress coat which she wore while the ship was sinking sold for $164,520 at a first-ever "Titanic" auction at Nate D. Sanders Auctions. Along with her dress coat, Jack's wardrobe, which consisted of a long sleeve shirt and corduroy pants, was also up for auction and was scooped up for $23,116. 

Elvis Presley's Bible neared $100,000

Elvis Presley was the King of Rock and Roll whose signature dance moves, sound, and style were unlike any other. After Elvis died in 1977, several of his items were sold at auction. From signed records to jewelry and clothing items he wore, and a portable television from his limo, people have been willing to spend thousands of dollars just to own something from the legendary star. 

In 2012, Presely's very own Bible which was given to him by his Uncle Vester and Aunt Clettes sold at the Omega Auctions in Stockport in England for $94,000, per the BBC. Auctioneer Karen Fairweather shared with the outlet that when the Bible went for almost $100,000, "You could hear a pin drop when it sold for that price." Needless to say, it's a one-of-a-kind artifact. As Rolling Stone noted, "He used it throughout the rest of his life, and wrote down his thoughts and annotations in its pages."

But let us not forget about The King's 24-carat gold leaf piano that, after going for $600,000 in 2015, "[set] a new record for the star's memorabilia at auction," per Paul Fraser Collectibles. And the bidder was none other than the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tampa, Florida. As the CEO said in a press release, "Hard Rock has been curating its priceless music memorabilia collection and sharing with guests around the world for more than 43 years, and Elvis' piano is an important piece of music history that we can't wait to share with our guests."

Ringo Starr's drum kit went for over $2 million at auction

Any item that once belonged to a member of The Beatles should be considered priceless, but a number was put on a drum kit that Ringo Starr used with the band for over 200 performances from 1963 to 1964. A really big number, that is. Reuters reported that the Ludwig Oyster Black three-piece drum kit was used to record the songs "Can't Buy Me Love," "I Want To Hold Your Hand," and several more of the Beatles top hits sold at Julien's Auction in 2015 for a staggering $2.1 million. 

According to Rolling Stone, the lucky buyer of the drum kit was Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay, who is a big fan of collecting rock and roll memorabilia. Irsay has also purchased at auction Bob Dylan's 1965 Newport Folk Festival guitar, John Lennon's 1966 "Paperback Writer" Gretsch guitar, and Les Paul's "Black Beauty." 

In addition to Starr's drum set, the Beatles member also auctioned off "his copy of the 'White Album,' which was stamped 'No. 0000001'" and set an anonymous buyer back $790,000, per Ultimate Classic Rock. Reuters also shared that the sale featured over 800 items belonging to Starr and his wife Barbara Bach and netted nearly $10 million. 

J.K. Rowling's chair where she wrote Harry Potter went for almost $400,000

When author J.K. Rowling released her "Harry Potter" series, a cult-like fan base was formed and wannabe witches and wizards wanted their hands on just about anything that had to do with The Wizarding World. And as for an artifact that played a major role in the creation of the series? You better believe people have shelled out a serious amount of galleons — multiple times.  

As Heritage Auctions recounted, Rowling gave the chair she sat in when she wrote "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" and "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" to an auction that benefited the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children in 2002. It went for $21,000. According to the BBC, the seat sold at auction again in 2009 for nearly $30,000 to an individual who bid on it "after his daughter, a Harry Potter fan, saw it on eBay." As the BBC reported, it sold once more at auction in 2016 for just under $400,000, with the seller intending to "donate 10% to JK Rowling's charity, Lumos, because that's what she did in the first place."

On top of being a chair that Rowling sat in, it also happens to be something she customized: The writer painted phrases like "I wrote Harry Potter while sitting on this chair" on the piece of furniture. She also included a letter that reads, "My nostalgic side is quite sad to see it go, but my back isn't."

Mysterious buyer nabbed the Darth Vader helmet worn by David Prowse

There are a lot of iconic costume pieces from the "Star Wars" franchise, but it would be hard to argue any piece is more iconic than Darth Vader's helmet. Unsurprisingly, said helmet brought in a ton of money at an auction. According to the Mirror, an anonymous buyer forked over around a million bucks to own the exact Darth Vader helmet worn by the late David Prowse in "Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back." As the Daily Mail noted, Prowse sported that piece of headgear when he uttered the line "The force is with you young Skywalker, but you are not a Jedi yet" in the flick. Oh, and that happens to be the same movie where Vader let Luke know that they are blood relatives, aka one of the biggest moments in cinematic history.

The auction was run by Profiles in History in Los Angeles in 2019. Regarding the helmet, the auction house website noted that it's "considered the 'Holy Grail' of science fiction artifacts" and "estimated to sell for $250,000 – $450,000." Clearly, it was a coveted piece that went for way more than the asking price. Per Complex, at the same auction, Darth Vader's shoulder gear also sold for close to $700,000. 

Joan Rivers' dog bowl fetched several grand

After comedian Joan Rivers died in 2014, over 200 of her items went up for sale at Christie's New York. The Guardian shared that the sale ranged from her lavish clothing to several dog-friendly items. And one particular piece that was used by her beloved pooch Spike got a lot of attention.

A Tiffany & Co. silver dog bowl which belonged to the Yorkie was "estimated at $500-800," but went up for nearly $14,000, according to The Guardian. It was reported that Joan took her pooch Spike everywhere with her, especially after her husband died in 1987. She told The Daily Beast that she had thoughts of suicide following his passing, but that changed after a small but significant moment with her dog. "What saved me was my dog jumped on my lap," she shared. "I thought, 'No one will take care of him.' He wasn't a friendly dog — only to me. I adored this dog. I had the gun on my lap, and the dog sat on the gun.'"

Joan's daughter Melissa Rivers said in a statement obtained by The Guardian that she was "delighted" to see that many of her mother's personal possessions "found new homes across the world." According to the outlet, money from the auction went to God's Love We Deliver and Guide Dogs for the Blind. Talk about a good paws, er, cause.

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