Christie’s “Pop Culture” Auction Held Today: James Bond Pistol Exceeds Expectations, Darth Vader Costume Goes Unsold

Christie’s “Pop Culture: Film and Entertainment” auction (Sale 5570) was held today at South Kensington, London.  Results from two of the highlight lots have been widely covered in Reuters and the AP, and picked up by mainstream media worldwide. 

The Darth Vader costume attributed to Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980), and the cover-featured item, failed to meet its £160,000 – £230,000 (US$253,120 – US$363,860) reserve, while an air pistol used by Sean Connery in promotion of From Russia with Love (1963) and other early Bond films sold for 13 times its highest presale estimate, realizing £277,250 (US$438,609) including buyer’s premium.

The Darth Vader costume (see, Sale 5570, Lot 123) was the cover-featured item for the auction catalog, which garnered significant mainstream media attention in late October.  The offering was the subject of much debate in the collecting community, most especially on the Replica Prop Forum (see “original darth vader costume up for auction“).  Earlier this month, the consignor of the piece, Ed Zine, was a guest of the “Prop Talk” podcast published by the Original Prop Blog, and the costume was the topic of our hour-long interview (see “Prop Talk Podcast #010 – Ed Zine, Darth Vader Costume Collector“).

The Walther air pistol attributed to From Russia With Love realized the highest price of all memorabilia sold at the event (see, Sale 5570, Lot 102).  As noted in a past article on the Original Prop Blog (see “The Side Arms of James Bond, 007: From The Walther PPK to the P99“), the piece was sold by Christie’s at their SK auction in February 2001 for US$20,487, a fraction of the US$438,609 that it traded hands for today.

The Walther was never actually used on the set of the production or seen on screen in any of the films, but was used for publicity photography and was portrayed in the primary one sheet poster used in the advertising campaign of From Russia With Love.  The iconic promotional images were reused in the advertising collateral of subsequent Bond films up through You Only Live Twice (1967).

As noted in the 2008 Original Prop Blog article, the signature sidearm used by the various actors portraying James Bond up through GoldenEye (1995), and then reintroduced with the most recent entry, Quantum of Solace (2008), was the Walther PPK (with some stand-in variations).  Interestingly, with the Prop Store/Christie’s auction event in December 2006, many of the original PPKs used in the James Bond films, supplied by armourer Bapty, were pulled prior to the sale, including the PPK used by Sean Connery in From Russia With Love.  It would be interesting to know how the value of the real Walther PPK used in the film would compare to the airsoft used in promotion of the film that sold today would compare.

Other prominent items offered for sale in today’s Christie’s auction event include:

  • Lot 116, 2001: A Space Odyssey, 1968 – HAL 9000 Panel – Price Realized £17,500 (US$27,685)
  • Lot 111, King Kong, 1933 – Brontosaurus Armature – Price Realized £25,000 (US$39,550)
  • Lot 108, The Man With The Golden Gun, 1974 – Remington Derringer used by Nick Nack – Price Realized £15,000 (US$23,730)

A production made Golden Fertility Idol attributed to Raiders of the Lost Ark 1980 – Lot 125 – failed to meet its £2,500 reserve.

Later this month, an unrelated “production made” Darth Vader helmet is being offered at auction by Profiles in History in their Hollywood Auction 43.  This other helmet is attributed to the original Star Wars: A New Hope (1977).

Update 11/26 – a video report by The Telegraph (full story here):

Jason DeBord


  1. […] The last very high profile James Bond-related prop was also sold by Christie’s about a year ago – an air pistol used by Sean Connery in publicity material for From Russia with Love and other earlier films, which sold for $438,609.  More details can be found in the OPB article, “Christie’s “Pop Culture” Auction Held Today: James Bond Pistol Exceeds Expectations, Da…. […]

  2. […] Online”, “Prop Talk Podcast #010 – Ed Zine, Darth Vader Costume Collector”, “Christie’s “Pop Culture” Auction Held Today: James Bond Pistol Exceeds Expectations, D…), the Christie’s pieces was embroiled in controversy, which Profiles seems to have […]

  3. […] A little over two years ago, an air gun /pistol used by Sean Connery for some iconic James Bond publicity photos stunned the hobby when it sold at the traditional late November Christie’s South Kensington Pop Culture auction far in excess of its estimate, realizing a staggering £277,250 (US$438,609) including buyer’s premium.  This was especially surprising since 1) the piece was sold by Christie’s at their SK auction in February 2001 for US$20,487, and 2) it was never actually used in any of the films (more, the type and design of the pistol was a far cry from the Walther PPK associated with the character).  The same piece was offered for sale again this past weekend by Sotheby’s, though it was not part of a movie and television memorabilia sale, but rather a sale for “English Literature, History, Children’s Books & Illustrations”.  It was so under the radar, I was not even aware of the sale until after it happened (courtesy of a news article by The Daily Mail).  It this reoffering, the piece only realized the opening bid of £100,000 (£121,250 with buyer’s premium, or about $197,000 in U.S. dollars), less than half what it was purchased for two years ago. […]

  4. […] has sold three times in the past three years (selling for approximately $438,000 with fees in a Christie’s South Kensington Pop Culture sale in November 2010, then less than half that at about $197,000 with fees in a Sotheby’s sale late last year, and […]

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