March 6, 2007
Obi-Wan’s Brown Cloak Sells for $104,000
LONDON -- The brown hooded cloak worn by Obi-Wan Kenobi in the "Star Wars" films - and then forgotten for years in a warehouse - sold for $104,000 to an anonymous telephone bidder Tuesday at an auction of movie and TV memorabilia.
Audience members raised their paddles in rapid succession as costumes flashed across TV screens at Bonhams, a British auctioneer, as staff fielded phone bids from all over the world. When the hammer dropped on a Bond girl's cat-suit or Anthony Hopkins' army uniform, men in dark blazers whispered the prices into their cell phones.
"It's nerve-racking, of course it is," costume collector Kamran Raja said as the outfits from "Evita," which starred Madonna, were auctioned off. He made a bid, paying $5,200 to add a fur-lined dressing gown from the 1996 movie to his 40-piece collection, which he said included one of Madonna's bras.
"I just aged 20 years in two minutes," he said.
The auction's main attraction was the hooded cloak worn by Alec Guinness as Ben Obi-Wan Kenobi in "Star Wars." It had gone unnoticed in the company's inventory until its provenance was discovered last year.
"How would anyone have known when that film was made that it would attain cult status?" said Tim Angel, chairman of Angels The Costumiers.
Angel said the company was trying to cut insurance costs by selling some 400 movie, TV and theater costumes from its 1.5 million-piece collection.
Some of the more eye-catching costumes - including Mel Gibson's kilt from "Braveheart" and the James Bond dinner jacket from "Thunderball" - were modeled by Bonhams staff.
While most of the bidders were dealers or collectors, a few were looking for a cheap conversation piece from a famous film or actor, said Bonhams specialist Stephanie Connell.
"You might just wear a suit to a dinner party and say, 'Look, it's a Michael Caine suit,'" Connell said. However, the Bond dinner jacket - a big-ticket item that sold for $64,700 - would probably never see another martini, she said.
The auction also included the beaten metal helmet worn by Terry Jones in "Monty Python and the Holy Grail." It sold for $19,300, 20 times more than its pre-sale estimate.
Raja, the pop costume collector, was mystified.
"It's just a metal bucket," he said, shaking his head.
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