Not all collector’s items are created equal. In fact, some collectibles floating around auctions sell for more than a suburban home! From the millions spent on Marilyn Monroe’s ‘Happy Birthday, Mr. President’ dress to the tens of millions spent on Leonardo Da Vinci’s Codex Leicester, the prices of these rare items are almost too high to believe.
Fender Stratocaster Guitar Signed By The Greats: $2.7 Million
To help raise funds for the victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, Qatar hosted a charity auction, “Reach out to Asia.” During the auction, one particularly interesting, rare, and valuable item came to the table — a Fender Stratocaster guitar signed by some of the greats.
The guitar is signed by the likes of Paul McCartney, Pete Townshend, Def Leppard members, Ritchie Blackmore, Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, Mick Jagger, and more! It wound up selling for a staggering price of $2.7 million.
Marilyn Monroe’s “Happy Birthday Mr. President” Dress: $4.8 Million
On May 19, 1962, Marilyn Monroe performed one of the most iconic renditions of the simple song “Happy Birthday.” Crooning to then-President John F. Kennedy, Monroe sang with a sultry voice while wearing a sheer gown hand-stitched with 2,500 rhinestones.
At Julien’s Auctions in 2016, the gown sold for a total of $4.8 million, making it the most expensive dress ever. It even outbid the legendary actress’s white Seven Year Itch dress, which sold for $4.6 million in 2011.
Mark McGwire’s 70th Home Run Baseball: $3 Million
In 1999, Mark McGwire’s 70th home run baseball became the most expensive piece of sports memorabilia ever to be sold at auction. That year, at Guernsey’s auction house, a private phone bidder bought the baseball for a whopping $3 million, buying out the rest of the participants in a long ten-minute bidding war.
Amazingly, that same day, the same buyer went and secured Sammy Sosa’s 66th home run ball. The buyer purchased Sosa’s ball in three minutes and for $126,500.
Pink Star Diamond: $71.2 Million
When it comes to pink diamonds, the Gemological Institute of America classifies them based on color, with “fancy vivid” being the rarest and most valuable. In 2017, a 59.60-carat oval mixed-cut Fancy Vivid Pink diamond sold auction for no small amount.
That year, the flawless diamond was auctioned off at Sotheby’s Hong Kong for $71.2 million. It is the largest diamond the Gemological Institute of America has ever graded and classified.
Leonardo Da Vinci’s Codex Leicester: $30.8 Million
While many think of Leonardo Da Vinci as a painter, he was much more. The epitome of a Renaissance Man, Da Vinci jotted down his thoughts on life, astronomy, rocks, water, and even fossils in a codex.
The leather-bound book of 36 pages was purchased at Christie’s Auction House in 1994 by none other than Bill Gates. The Microsoft founder bought the codex for $30.8 million. As of 2019, it’s worth around $53 million.
Louis XVI Ormolu-Mounted Ebony Grande Sonnerie: $3 Million
The Louis XVI Ormolu-Mounted Ebony Grande Sonnerie is no ordinary clock; it’s the most expensive clock ever to be sold at auction. In fact, the former César Gabriel de Choiseul-owned timepiece holds the Guinness World Record for being the priciest clock!
At Christie’s Auction House in 1999, the clock sold for a whopping $3 million. Interestingly, it was a huge step down from its original selling price. Originally, the Barons Nathaniel and Albert von Rothschild sold the clock as part of a $90 million collection.
Honus Wagner Baseball Card: $3.7 Million
Pittsburgh Pirates player Honus Wagner was part of the American Tobacco’s T206 series baseball cards. Only 200 of the packs were made, and even fewer of Wagner because he asked to be removed from the series, as he didn’t want to promote tobacco use to young kids.
Because of this, his card is very rare and valuable. A mint condition Wagner card sold for $3.7 million in 2021, and, according to Goldin Auctions, a less-pristine condition of the card sold for a little over $1 million — that’s how rare they are!
Badminton Cabinet: $36.6 Million
Standing 152 inches tall and 91.5 inches wide, the 18th century Badminton Cabinet is quite a marvel. Covered in colored stones, including some semi-precious, with a clock face at the top and two gilded statues, the piece of furniture is the most expensive in the world!
In 2004, at Christie’s Auction House in London, the Badminton Cabinet was auctioned off for a price of $36.6 million. That’s a huge step from its auction price in 1990. That year, it sold for a little over $10 million.
A Lock Of Elvis Presley’s Hair: $4,745.80
Throughout the ’50s and ’60s, people couldn’t turn on the radio without hearing the deep, sultry voice of Elvis Presley, The King of Rock and Roll. His hip-swinging songs led to sold-out concerts and screaming fans. Everyone wanted a piece of him, including someone who bought a lock of his hair at auction.
The original portion of hair was worth around $115,000, but it has since been divvied up throughout the years. At Hansons Auctioneers and Valuers, a few strands sold for $4,745.80
Dracula (1931) Movie Poster: $525,800
The 1931 film Dracula was the first sound adaptation of the classic novel of the same name by Bram Stoker. As it’s the film that helped Universal Studios launch their monster movie madness, the original print of the movie power is very valuable and, of course, rare.
At Heritage Auctions in Dallas, Texas, the movie poster sold for a whopping $525,800. The price beat out Casablanca’s $478,000 movie poster and The Mummy‘s $453,000 movie poster.
Andreas Gursky’s “99 Cent II, Diptych” Photograph: $3.4 Million
Andreas Gursky’s “99 Cent II Diptychon” is a two-part color photograph depicting a well-stocked supermarket. This famous photo sold for $2.25 million in May 2006, $2.48 million in November 2006, and $3,346,456 in February 2007. That final sale price made it the most expensive photograph sold at the time.
While the sale price of “99 Cent II Diptychon” was staggering, believe it or not, Gursky’s “Rhein Li” sold for literally a million more a year later, a whopping $4.3 million at Christie’s Auction House.
Francis Crick’s “Secret Of Life” Letter: $6 Million
When Francis Crick penned a letter to his 12-year-old son in 1953, he probably never thought his outline of the double helix of DNA would be worth an absolute fortune one day. Well, winning the Nobel Prize in medicine seems to do that to something as simple as a letter!
In 2013, Crick’s “Secret of Life” letter became the most expensive letter in history, selling for $6 million at Christie’s Auction House.
Napoleon’s Sword: $6.4 Million
Used in the battle of Marengo in 1880, Napoleon’s gold-encrusted sword was passed down in the family for generations. It is said that eight of his descendants carried the sword and it’s believed to be the last of the former leader’s blades to be in private hands. In 1978, it was announced that the sword was a national treasure of France.
It is a treasure, indeed, considering it sold for $6.4 million during an auction in France in 2007.
“Artemis And The Stag” Bronze Sculpture: $28.6 Million
In 2007, Sotheby’s stunned the art world when they sold the bronze statue “Artemis and the Stag.” The statue depicts the Goddess of the Hunt after she released an arrow. Alongside her is a stag. The auctioned-off statue at Christie’s Auction House became the most expensive piece of art ever sold.
After an unusually long ten-minute bidding war, “Artemis and the Stag” sold for a total of $28.6 million. The previous record for most expensive artwork sold at auction belonged to Constantin Brancusi’s “Bird in Space,‘ which sold for $27.4 million.
Mist The Cow: $1.3 Million
Mist, a cow, became the most expensive farm animal around when she was sold at auction for a whopping $1.3 million. According to Mist’s former owner, Boston lawyer Jerome Rappaport, “Mist is a show cow. She has a high pedigree, high index, and her milk has a high butterfat content. She sold today not only for herself but for her 14 pregnancies as well.”
Rappaport said that he auctioned off Mist because he wanted to show the value of a cow.
1962-63 Ferrari 250 GTO Berlinetta: $48.4 Million
The 1962-63 Ferrari 250 GTO Berlinetta is very rare. Only 36 were made, with the chassis 3413 being one of six with a body designed by Pininfarina and one of four sporting upgraded features. Needless to say, the car is extremely valuable.
In fact, in 2018, it became the most expensive car ever to be sold at auction. RM Sotheby’s Auction House wound up selling the classic GTO for a whopping $48.4 million. At a private auction earlier in the year, a 1963 version sold for $70 million!
1856 One-Cent Magenta Stamp From British Guiana: $9.5 Million
The 1856 One-Cent Magenta Stamp from British Guiana is widely regarded as the world’s rarest and most valuable stamp. Part of a series of three postage stamps, the 1c was used on local newspapers. As of 2021, only one known 1c magenta stamp is known to exist.
This particular stamp has been sold four times throughout its history, breaking price records each time. Most recently, in 2021, the stamp was auctioned by Sotheby’s and sold for $9.5 million.
“L’Homme Au Doigt” By Alberto Giacometti: $141.3 Million
A fascinating piece of artwork by Alberto Giacometti set a record for being the most expensive sculpture sold at auction. In 2015, the 1947 bronze “L’Homme Au Doigt” was sold at Christie’s Auction House for a total of $141.3 million.
According to the auction house, the sculpture is a “rare masterpiece” and “Giacometti’s most iconic and evocative sculpture.” Before the auction, the piece was in real estate developer Sheldon Solow’s private collection for 45 years.
Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi”: $450.3 Million
Once thought to be lost, the original “Salvator Mundi” by the iconic Leonardo Da Vinci was found and restored. The painting depicts Jesus in a blue Renaissance dress, making the symbol of the cross with his right hand and holding a clear sphere in the left.
Sold at Christie’s Auction House in 2017, it became the most expensive painting ever to be bought at a public auction. It was purchased by Prince Badr bin Abdullah of Saudi Arabia for $450.3 million.
Lance Armstrong’s Damien Hirst Butterfly Bicycle: $500,000
The Damien Hirst Butterfly Bicycle that Lance Armstrong rode during the 2009 Tour de France, is the most expensive bike in the world. Designed as a one-off creation by British artist Damien Hirst, the bike features real butterfly wings affixed to the frame of a Trek Madone.
In 2009, the bike was auctioned by Sotheby’s in New York to aid the bike rider’s LiveStrong Cancer charity foundation. It sold for $500,000.