Answer: The Robby the Robot Suit
When it comes to movie memorabilia auctions, there is no shortage of people with money who want to own a piece of movie history and keep a prop right in their home to show off. Historically, the highest prices for movie props came from more mainstream franchises with super notable sci-fi film series like Star Trek and Star Wars fetching a decent sum for high profile props. For example, one of the highest amounts paid for movie props, if you open it up to all genres, is 4.6 million dollars for James Bond’s Aston Martin DB5 from the movies Goldfinger and Thunderball, and just shy of 4.1 million dollars for the lead falcon prop from The Maltese Falcon.
Prior to 2017, the values for sci-fi props were much lower than that. Before then, the most expensive sci-fi movie prop ever auctioned off was a miniature model of the Starship Enterprise 1701-D. The model was used for the show Star Trek: The Next Generation and for the Star Trek Generations movie. It fetched $576,000 at a 2006 Christie’s auction. Auctioneers had originally estimated that the prop would command around $25,000-$35,000 and were shocked at how quickly the bidding rose. In 2017, however, that high point was blown clear out of the water when someone bid all the way up to, at Bonhams auction house, a staggering 5.375 million dollars for the honor of owning the robot suit used to portray Robby the Robot in the 1956 cult sci-fi classic Forbidden Planet. The winning bid became not only the highest amount paid for a sci-fi prop, but the highest amount paid for any movie prop.
Other notably pricey, albeit not record-setting, sci-fi props include a model of a Star Wars T.I.E fighter from the 1977 film Star Wars: A New Hope. It fetched $402,000 in a 2008 auction, beating out the previous Star Wars related record of $240,000 for Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber from Star Wars: A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. The appeal of Star Wars movie gear even extends beyond the props. A Panavision PSR 35mm R-200 camera, used personally by George Lucas during the filming of Star Wars: A New Hope, sold at auction for $625,000.
Although Star Wars and Star Trek, with their cult followings and large fan bases, top the charts for most of the expensive sci-fi gear sold at auction, other sci-fi films still get plenty of love. A full-scale model of a T-800 (the skeletal metal terminator seen at the beginning of Terminator 2: Judgement Day) sold at auction for $488,750—we’re sure that the light-up-action of the iconic red eyes and solid metal construction was what sealed the deal—and one of the DeLorean DMC-12s used in the Back to the Future trilogy was sold in 2011 for $541,000.