On 10th November, Julien’s presided over the sale of 800+ lots for their ‘Hollywood Icons and Idols’ auction, featuring movie costumes, props and assorted memorabilia.
The auction’s big draw was a (not ‘the’; there were several) blue and white cotton gingham pinafore dress and original blouse worn by Judy Garland as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. It exceeded lowest expectations selling for $480,000, perhaps not as much as hoped for bearing in mind it is such a well loved costume – top estimate was $600,000. Much of the bidding went this way, certainly high and above estimates, but nowhere near the record amounts seen at the Debbie Reynolds auction last year. This could be because overall the lots were not as obviously exciting, or economic reasons, or even simply that the sale was not particularly well publicised.
Any item seen on Marilyn Monroe will make money, but over half a million dollars for her green velour gown from River of No Return is way above estimates, especially considering it was not one of her better known films. It even outsold the Dorothy dress.
Pierce Brosnan’s Prince of Wales check suit from GoldenEye was sold accompanied by a button-down white shirt from Primark. He did not wear a button-down white shirt from Primark in the film.
There were bargains to be had but anything worn by a Hollywood great, even if the film itself was less than memorable, hit several hundred thousand dollars. That said, even though Julie Andrews’ green dress from The Sound of Music reached $38,400, one of her kimonos from the Julie Andrews Hour TV series sold for a measly $128. And $576 for a period dress worn by Ida Lupino in The Sherlock Holmes Adventures? A steal.
Auctions are a fun way to own a piece of movie history, yet the outcome is not always rosy with regards to preservation. Some famous costumes disappear into vaults, are displayed on the walls of some dusty castle, or (God forbid) zipped into plastic covers and never seen again. Senior curator of the Hollywood Costume exhibition currently running at the V&A, Deborah Nadoolman Landis, discovered this first hand when she attempted to track down the Ascot dress worn by Audrey Hepburn as Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady. It was sold at the Debbie Reynolds auction to a private collector and unfortunately nobody knows where it presently resides.
© 2012, Christopher Laverty.