Wachowski auction for trans youth
April 24, 2022 7:06 AM   Subscribe

The Wachowski sisters are auctioning off a vast amount of stuff to benefit trans youth. Items include the speeder from Cloud Atlas, the lightning gun from The Matrix, and a bunch of guns from Jupiter Ascending, as well as a bunch of things that probably won't cost a berjillion bucks.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace (22 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 
Yeeeaaaars ago when Paramount was auctioning off all the Star Trek stuff, one of the lots was a set of sickbay blankets from ST6 that were to all appearances just nice wool blankets with USS ENTERPRISE silkscreened onto them, and their estimated price was... about what decent wool blankets cost.

I was SO MAD with myself for forgetting to put a bid in until I checked later and they actually sold for like $1000 each. And that didn't even support trans youth.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 7:09 AM on April 24 [3 favorites]


I used to be friends with somebody who crewed on the Robocop TV show shot in Toronto and wound up with so much neat crap from that show; all sorts of goofy '90s "cyberpunk" stuff; leather jackets with chrome doodads sewed to them, various headpieces and prop guns, etc. Also: there was a Robocop TV show shot in Toronto in the '90s, which may come as a surprise to many.

Tons of cool stuff in here, my one prior experience with this kind of auction (Hannibal miscellany) saw, like, file folders from a desk just out of shot on the show going for a zillion bucks, so I don't think these things are for me.

As somebody not super involved with this world, what do the numbers like "100/300" mean after item listings?
posted by Shepherd at 7:39 AM on April 24 [2 favorites]


I think those are the low/high estimates, all of which seem like real lowballs to me.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 7:44 AM on April 24 [2 favorites]


I think those are the low/high estimates, all of which seem like real lowballs to me.

Is that in US $$? I don't know movie memorabilia, but this seems wildly low to me, particularly for anything Matrix. Could someone who knows more about pricing for memorabilia chime in? Does it normally go for this little?
posted by Toddles at 8:45 AM on April 24


If you click on an item you can see the current bid. Most are well over the low cost floor.
posted by Bottlecap at 9:01 AM on April 24


You’ll need to be on the live auction site to see current bids
posted by Bottlecap at 9:03 AM on April 24 [2 favorites]


That's quite a spring cleaning. And I find it fascinating that such detailed physical models were built just for VFX artists to reference when making CG scenes, I wonder if that's still common these days.
posted by credulous at 9:05 AM on April 24


Is that in US $$? I don't know movie memorabilia, but this seems wildly low to me, particularly for anything Matrix. Could someone who knows more about pricing for memorabilia chime in?

Those Cloud Atlas Sextet records were a Germany-only limited edition (apparently of 1000), went for $30 each new, and today regularly sell for hundreds of dollars on Discogs. A pack of five, four unopened, for $90? Not gonna happen. These estimates do seem abnormally low.
posted by eschatfische at 10:23 AM on April 24


The low/high estimates track from what I've seen with other movie props and assorted peripherals like crew t-shirts and shot sheets and stuff. Though the final auction gavel prices may end up being much higher.

The prices for movie props or supported materials is often a lot less than a lot of people might think it is, often much less than the cost of professionally made replica models of the same props.

Movie studios and production companies tend to not hang on to these items. They're often outright destroyed or just thrown in the trash. For really iconic or unique items there's very little re-use value because they wouldn't translate well to other films. Some directors or producers actually insist on destroying iconic or unique props so they don't end up being reused in horrible low budget movies.

Though this has changed in recent years and decades and I get the feeling there's more stuff being saved by directors and producers specifically because of the collectible, resale or historical value, because there have been some lessons learned over the years, like how they almost destroyed the original Enterprise from the first Star Trek (ToS) before it was rescued, restored and put on display in the Smithsonian.

Stuff that's less iconic and more universally reusable like historically accurate furniture, signage, clothing or other supporting props tends to get saved and re-used more than "iconic" props and goes back into storage either at studios or at the prop supply houses who rented it out in the first place.

I've talked about this before but in reality the quality of a lot of functional and even screen used props just isn't great. They tend to look very rough and unfinished up close and in your hands. Movie props are often made fast and cheap and even have last minute redesigns. And they often have significant wear and tear from handling and use. Stuff like severely chipped paint or foam or resin cast parts that are degrading or distorting due to outgassing is really common.

The big ticket items for props tend to be "hero" props where there's likely only one copy of it and it has the best look and finish out of all of the props. For example, if you really wanted the "hero gun" from a major movie like Blade Runner that was the real metal and resin gripped prop hacked together out of different real metal gun parts used by Deckard/Ford in closeups it would likely be rather expensive, but any of the foam cast stunt props used for fast action scenes there would likely be dozens of those and much more affordable.

Even then, the "real" hero gun from Blade Runner would probably be fairly disappointing in person and if you wanted something that you could actually hold in your hand, display on your shelf, use a toy and otherwise show off you'd probably be better off going with a replica or model. This might not be the best example because as far as I know the original hero gun used by Deckard is lost to time and was probably destroyed, which is why no accurate replicas existed of it for so many years or decades.

But the "real" hero prop would probably look so rough people would have a hard time believing you that it was the original "used on screen" hero gun.

So even in the wild and woolly market for collectibles from iconic films there really is a very limited market where someone actually wants these pieces of film history, who understands what they're actually buying and can afford the prices usually being asked - and so there's a very small and slim market of interested buyers.

People who are in to movie memorabilia and collecting props - especially from SF, horror or fantasy films - know this already and tend to be very reserved about what they purchase, and there's honestly not that much of this stuff available on the open market.

In addition to this the collectible/investment resale value is also small. It's very difficult to grade and price these items, and prices tend to be dictated by the market and popularity and that can be really unstable and fleeting. If you were going to buy any kind of collectible or memorabilia for its resale value or potential to increase in value as an investment you're often better off buying replicas, original retail toys or other items that aren't actual movie props.

A long time ago I had a friend who collected a variety of props and often tried to get work as a PA or gopher just to get his hands on some of this stuff.

He had some interesting things, like one of the rifles from one of the original Planet of the Apes movies. Which, in person, was basically a roughly cut hunk of wood, some metal tubing and some paint and wood stain and to be honest it looked like total crap in person. It was so bad it looked like something a kid made with hand tools out of a bunch of random trash. But they had to make dozens or hundreds of these prop rifles for shooting group scenes where the props were never really in focus, so it's not like it would make sense to spend union wages detailing all of these background prop guns to look good on some collector's shelf years or decades after the movie was released.

He also had a small collection of used latex prosthetics and appliques - mostly from really bad horror movies and B-list stuff. He even had a couple of small molds. But if you just looked at them without any knowledge of where they came from they really just looked like a bunch of random crap, like someone collected some rejects off of a plastic molding factory line and kept them in a shoebox gathering dust and slowly decomposing.

Like they were so bad that if you saw them in a museum you'd question the sanity of the curator. And our circle of friends questioned the sanity of our collector friend on a regular basis, but he liked his collection and obviously really enjoyed showing it off as well as the art and science of making movies. He wasn't buying or collecting these things for any kind of investment value, he just thought it was cool to have some of these pieces.

So all of that being said - and not to disparage the Wachowski's efforts at all - the items in the linked PDF catalog are pretty cool but not exactly an A-list collection. There's not a whole lot of significant "screen used" items or really any true hero props to speak of. It's exactly the sort of collection you could find in the junk piles or storage shelves of a prop house or prop designer, or in the shoe boxes of a collector like the friend I mention above.
posted by loquacious at 10:33 AM on April 24 [13 favorites]


Deckard's Hero PKD Blaster from Blade Runner is in the collection of Dan Lanigan. 40 odd years later it does look a completely different colour.
posted by Lanark at 11:38 AM on April 24 [4 favorites]


Deckard's Hero PKD Blaster from Blade Runner is in the collection of Dan Lanigan. 40 odd years later it does look a completely different colour.

Wow, this is literally the first time I've ever even heard that the original still exists somewhere.

That collection is utterly astonishing and jaw dropping.
posted by loquacious at 11:50 AM on April 24 [2 favorites]


Yeah, the one thing in there I'm actually almost interested is just that framed photo of the Picasso sculpture. Just a nice photo, already framed, with a little story to it.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 11:53 AM on April 24


I wonder if they are putting a certain prop up for auction that they used in the opening and closing of Sense8.
posted by Catblack at 1:02 PM on April 24


I was SO MAD with myself for forgetting to put a bid in until I checked later and they actually sold for like $1000 each.

My mortgage holder would like to thank you for keeping this to yourself till now.
posted by biffa at 1:10 PM on April 24


Hawaiian Poi and Ring Pounders Gifted to the Wachowskis by Keanu Reeves.
Basalt poi and ring pounder implements as used in traditional Hawaiian culture. Considered to be the most valuable of stone implements used on the Hawaiian islands, these pounders were used to crush the taro root after baking and then kneaded into a fine paste called poi, with its nourishment considered a perfect substitute for lactose-sensitive babies. Tallest height 10”. Gifted by Keanu Reeves to the Wachowskis during production of the first three Matrix films. Provenance: The Wachowskis.


That's a very interesting & personal-seeming gift, I'd love to hear the story there (assuming one exists).
posted by CrystalDave at 2:36 PM on April 24 [2 favorites]


Hahahah this is amazing, thank you for posting! I just bid on something from Jupiter Ascending.
posted by Tesseractive at 3:54 PM on April 24


It was a lot of fun looking through bits of catalog.
posted by wotsac at 9:23 PM on April 24


Some directors or producers actually insist on destroying iconic or unique props so they don't end up being reused in horrible low budget movies.

Others are less precious about it.
posted by flabdablet at 10:18 PM on April 24 [3 favorites]


I had no idea there was an award for Best Trailer, consisting of a gold plated trailer hitch on a pedestal.
posted by bartleby at 2:16 AM on April 25


Others are less precious about it.

It still requires a director / production designer who's not precious about stuff, but that's a rental from (now closed) Modern Props.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 6:30 AM on April 25 [2 favorites]


Oh man, I would really like that sheet music of the Cloud Atlas Sextet signed by Tykwer and the other composers, but it's already at $1,200.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 10:23 AM on April 25


Others are less precious about it.

I had a feeling that example would come up. It's not really an example of unique or iconic like Luke's Lightsaber or Deckard's blaster like I was thinking about. There's tons of stuff that gets re-used, and that particular piece has been in some really bad movies and TV shows, but not all of it has been horrible.

Another example is the women's razor handle (Lady Shick? Can't remember) that was used in Episode 1 of the Starwars Prequels that has made appearances elsewhere.

There's also the interesting case of the original prop artist of the Star Wars Stormtrooper armor and using them to create new armor pieces for direct sale to the cosplay community and it resulted in some legal drama and battles:

Ah, here's some links:

https://hackaday.com/2011/07/28/making-and-selling-star-wars-costumes-ruled-to-be-legal/

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-12910683
posted by loquacious at 12:40 PM on April 25


« Older How the Sausage McMuffin Gets Made   |   Orrin Grant Hatch (March 22, 1934 – April 23, 2022... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments