Inside Wealth

Lord of the Rings memorabilia set for $1 million auction

Sir Ian McKellen has said he was "miserable" while filming "The Hobbit," compared to playing Gandalf in "Lord of the Rings," because of too much virtual production, but the technology could become more common in filmmaking in a post-Covid-19 world.
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We've all been there. So excited after a Peter Jackson epic that you swirl around the living room pretending to be Aragorn, Gimli the dwarf or Legolas the elf.

Well now it's time to complete the look. This week, the largest-known private collection of memorabilia from the Lord of the Rings films will be auctioned by Julien's in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, an auction house specializing in film and music souvenirs.

But before your start dreaming of swishing axes above your head, you might want to take a look at the price tags offered for Thursday's Middle Earth auction.

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Highlights will include Frodo Baggins' sword (pictured below), likely to be sold for between $100,000-$200,000.

In addition, there will be Aragorn's sword (pictured below) with an estimate of $50,000-$70,000.

Gimli's battleaxe (pictured below) with an estimate of $50,000-$70,000 and wizard Gandalf's staff with an estimate of $50,000-$70,000.

There will also be props used by the evil Ringwraiths, plus prosthetic hobbit feet used by the character Sam (pictured below), helmets, shields, boots, vests, arrows and more.

If items all reach stated guide prices, then around $1 million will change hands when the auction closes.

"Fans, collectors, and film enthusiasts will have the chance of a lifetime to bid on some of the most sought-after memorabilia from one the biggest trilogies of films in entertainment history," Julien's auction said in a news release.

"The memorabilia, which has been assembled over the past decade by a single, passionate collector, is only second to director Peter Jackson's official archive in scope. The collection boasts iconic examples of props and costumes from major characters and memorable scenes from the trilogy."

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Siobhan Synnot, a film writer for the Scotland on Sunday newspaper, told CNBC that the auction featured items that were bound to increase in value in the future, since they were so central to the films.

"The sword Sting, hobbit feet, and even a precious ring. Those will go for daft prices, but lesser items will attract fans who are desperate for any kind of souvenir of their favorite films, so provided they have the money, this auction will be a battle between film collectors and Hobbit hobbyists!" she told CNBC via email.

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"The excitement around the Lord of the Rings auction will probably be the biggest thing since the Battle of Helms Deep (an epic battle featured in the Peter Jackson films). There haven't been many auctions of this memorabilia, it's an extremely popular franchise."

The Harry Potter franchise is comparable in terms of its depth of fandom, Synnot said. But she expected Lord of the Rings fans to be older, and therefore having deeper pockets.

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Nick de Semlyen, a reviews editor at film magazine Empire agreed, and said that fans would need to be pretty wealthy to purchase any items.

"The props were all created with immense care and attention to detail by Weta Workshop in New Zealand — each of the 'hero' swords has its own distinct look and personality," he told CNBC via email.

"Peter Jackson and his team created an entire world, with immaculately designed sets and an assortment of unforgettable creatures. The trilogy was more epic than anything ever seen on screen's a world that people want to live in."

By's Matt Clinch. Follow him on Twitter

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