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"Easy Rider" Chopper Tops $1 Million at Auction

Among collectors, Hollywood memorabilia is valued as much for the emotional attachment as it is the investment.

| BY Donald Liebenson


Do Hollywood collectibles get your motor running? Then read on.

The “Captain America” motorcycle from “Easy Rider” fetched $1,350,000 as part of Profiles in History’s Hollywood Entertainment memorabilia auction held over the weekend. This is reportedly the highest price yet realized for a motorcycle at auction.

The chopper, ridden by Peter Fonda in the game-changing 1969 film that opened studio executives’ eyes to a younger, hipper audience, was one of several of the screen’s most iconic props sold at the auction. Among them were:

  • Ian McKellan’s Gandalf staff from “Lord of the Rings” --$325,000
  • Harrison Ford’s Indiana Jones whip from the Indiana Jones film series--$180,000
  • Leonardo DiCaprio’s “king of the world” jacket worn in “Titanic” --$60,000

Also offered at auction were Orson Welles recently discovered “podium” jacket from “Citizen Kane” ($102,000) as well as Clayton Moore’s screen-used “Lone Ranger” mask (the selling price was not available at press time)

Profiles in History, founded in 1985, by Joseph Maddelena, who hosted the Sy-Fy Channel series, “Hollywood Treasures.” The company specializes in original Hollywood memorabilia and prides itself on provenance. As with any auction offering, provenance—or authenticity—is everything. “Anything in doubt we kick it out,” said Joe Moe, Profiles in History catalog editor in a phone interview with Spectrem’s Millionaire Corner. “The Indiana Jones whip, for example, went from Steven Spielberg to a charity to us.”

Collectibles are among the most popular of alternative investments, according to Spectrem’s Millionaire Corner research of Affluent households, although these investors are more prone to collecting coins and currency andart than they are, say, Charlie Chaplin’s personal accordion, which was also for sale at Profiles in History’s auction.

Among collectors, Hollywood memorabilia is valued as much for the emotional attachment as it is the investment. “We are selling memories, not objects” Moe said. “These are things that sang to you in your childhood; a fantasy that transported you, a defining story in your life.”

Hollywood memorabilia has an especial “thrill of ownership” factor that cuts across all age groups and passions, Moe said. Other items up for auction over the weekend were guitar virtuoso Stevie Ray Vaughan’s vintage 1973 Feeder Telecaster guitar, Sigourney Weaver’s “Ripley” jacket from “Alien,” and Sylvester Stallone’s boxing gloves used to fight Mr. T in “Rocky III.”

The collecting of Hollywood memorabilia has been going on for decades and as vintage items become scarcer and new items take on iconic status, it is a market in no danger of suffering the same fate as baseball cards. It is becoming a more international market, thanks to the advent of social media,” Moe observed, as people around the world gain more access to American pop culture.”



About the Author


Donald Liebenson

dliebenson@millionairecorner.com

Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.  

A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.