The Panavision PSR 35 mm motion picture camera used to film Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope went under the hammer at the Profiles in History Debbie Reynolds Collection Part II auction over the weekend and smashed all auction records for movie equipment after selling for $625,000.
Used by George Lucas to film the fourth installment of Star Wars movies, the camera package included a Panaspeed motor, matte box, follow focus, a Moy geared head, Italian-made Elemack camera dolly and lens and two 1000 ft. magazines. True Star Wars fans will be delighted to know the camera is still functional and has been completely restored. The record price of $520,000 (plus $105,000 auction commission) was nearly three times the high estimate of $200,000 for the item. The previous record for Star Wars memorabilia sold at auction was set in 2008 when a buyer paid $402,500 for a miniature TIE fighter model used in the original Star Wars.
The price was also a record for a vintage Hollywood movie camera. Several other cameras of similar pedigree offered at this auction did not sell for nearly as much as the Lucas camera. A Panavision camera used in the filming of 2001: A Space Odyssey fetched $70,000. Charlie Chaplin’s hand-cranked 1918 Bell & Howell camera failed to sell after receiving no bids for its minimum price of $200,000.
The Panavision camera was the highest selling lot, easily beating out each of the four Marilyn Monroe costumes in the sale, which respectively fetched $210,000 (Dorothy Jeakins modified off-the-rack couture ensemble from Niagara), $260,000 (Travilla designed costume from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes), $230,000 (Travilla designed costume from Bus Stop) and $240,000 (Dorothy Jeakins designed costume from Let’s Make Love).
This group of Marilyns paled in comparison to the prices realized by the four Marilyn dresses from the first Debbie auction, which sold for a total of $6,810,000 hammer.
Overall, the second Debbie Reynolds auction brought $2,554,800 in total hammer prices realized, a respectable 174% over the total pre-sale low estimates. With 20% buyer’s premium, the auction total was $3,065,760.00.