Lord of the Rings-Clapperboard one of the movie memorabilia to be sold by Bonhams auction house. Image courtesy of Bonhams
NEW YORK— Bonhams auction house is set to offer for sale two of the most powerful and magical weapons to feature in J.R.R Tolkien’s novels. The Bonhams Turner Classic Movies auction to be held in New York on November 24 will include the wizard Saruman’s staff and Aragorn’s sword. The sale is part of There’s No Place Like Hollywood, an auction of classic movie memorabilia by Bonhams in conjunction with Turner Classic Movies.
Highlighting the sale are three items used during the filming of Sir Peter Jackson’s Academy Award winning trilogy, The Lord of the Rings. Sourced from the collection of internationally acclaimed actor, Sir Christopher Lee and his wife Lady Lee, the auction is already creating great excitement amongst movie memorabilia collectors and fans of The Lord of the Rings.
A celebrated and one of the most prolific actors of his generation, Sir Christopher has appeared in more than 200 films and is best known for his portrayal of Dracula and a host of other villains. On the auction, Sir Christopher Lee commented “Since production finished on the set of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, I’ve treasured these important pieces of film history in my private collection. More than a decade has passed and I feel it is now time that someone else is able to enjoy their magic. The dedicated film memorabilia auction at Bonhams in New York will provide the ideal stage.”
The Saruman wizard’s staff is one of the items to be put on sale during the Bonhams Turner Classic Movies auction. Owned and used by Sir Christopher Lee, who played Saruman throughout the filming of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the staff served as a tool and weapon in the hands of Saruman. Saruman the White was a significant character in first two The Lord of the Rings films. Driven by the lust for power, the once wisest and most powerful wizard of the Order of the White and head of its council, took a dark turn. He turned against his fellows and began using his magic for evil, causing anarchy in the land. In his hand was the staff, a primary weapon with which he caused a lot of chaos. In the end good defeated evil. In Tolkien’s novels Saruman’s staff was broken by the wizard Gandalf and his powers, crushed.
Estimated at $100,000-150,000 (GB£62,500-93,750), the metal staff stands at over six feet tall. It is topped by a pronged resin crown which cradles a hand-blown glass orb. Ever since the production ceased filming between 2001-2003, the staff has remained in Sir Christopher’s treasured personal collection.
Another item to be sold by Sir Christopher Lee is Aragorn’s hero sword Anduril. Estimated at US$150,000-250,000 (GB£93,750-£156,250), it is believed that the legend of the sword will help take it over the estimated sale price line during the auction. According to Tolkien’s legend, Andúril was forged for Aragorn from the shattered pieces of the blade Narsil of the last King of Men and established him as the heir to the throne of Gondor and the new King of Men: “Renewed shall be the blade that was broken, the crownless again shall be King.”
Designed by master sword smith, Peter Lyon, whose work sits in the royal armoury as part of the Royal Collection of Her Majesty the Queen, the fact that the sword is to be auctioned is causing great excitement amongst movie memorabilia collectors. Crafted from the highest quality steel, the sword is one of only four hero swords made for Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn for use on set in The Return of the King to have come onto the market. The remaining three are in private collections. Andúril was presented to Sir Christopher Lee by the co-founder of Weta Workshop Sir Richard Taylor after the production in gratitude for his contribution on set. Sir Christopher is known to be an accomplished swordsman with exceptional knowledge of Tolkien’s works. The sword is sold with a document thanking Sir Christopher; “…as a special acknowledgement of the friendship, camaraderie and learned knowledge that he brought and shared during the production of these films.”
Also included in this sale of movie memorabilia is the clapper board which wrapped the very last scene that Sir Christopher Lee filmed in the third and final film, The Return Of The King. It is estimated to sell for US$6,000-8,000 (GB£3,750-5,000).
The New York sale of The Lord of the Rings movie memorabilia is a continuation of the joint project between Turner Classic Movies and Bonhams auction house that started last year. Last November, both organizations teamed up to host a highly successful auction titled What Dreams Are Made Of: A Century of Movie Magic at Auction as Curated by Turner Classic Movies. During that auction, a Maltese Falcon statuette, used in John Huston’s classic film, drew a record-setting bid of over US$4 million, setting a new milestone for a movie prop.
Katherine Schofield, Head of Department for Entertainment Memorabilia in London expressed delight about the collaboration: “Bonhams are delighted to be working with distinguished British actor Sir Christopher Lee throughout the sale of his important personal film props. We very much look forward to seeing them on view in our New York salerooms alongside other classic movie memorabilia from legendary productions including Casablanca, The Wizard of Oz and Gone With The Wind.”
As a prelude to the Bonhams Turner Classic Movies auction that is generating also lot of excitement among collectors, Bonhams auction house will be putting on display items from Sir Christopher Lee’s collection at Bonhams Knightsbridge salerooms in London from July 31 to 4th August before travelling to America for sale in Bonhams, New York.