Would you think someone was crazy if they paid more than $100,000 for a brown, wooly sack? How about an old, brown, wooly sack? Well, what if the sack was once draped around the shoulders of Jedi knight Obi-Wan Kenobi as he fought his nemesis Darth Vader?
Angels the Costumiers, one of the biggest and oldest movie costume makers in the world, has auctioned off more than 400 of its outfits, and a slice of Hollywood history has gone to the highest bidder.
The results: James Bond's dinner jacket from "Thunderball" went for $64,745, the hat and suit Sean Connery wore in "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" was sold for $50,872, more than 15 times the estimated price, and $48,555 was the price for Mel Gibson's outfit from "Braveheart." Also on sale were costumes from the "Harry Potter" movies, Madonna's dresses from "Evita" and Batman and Robin suits.
Angels was started more than 150 years ago, and so far it counts 26 Oscars for outstanding achievement in costume design in movies such as "Lawrence of Arabia," "Star Wars," "Titanic," "Gladiator" and "Memoirs of a Geisha."
But now Tim Angel, the company's chairman, has been forced to sell off some costumes. After five generations, the family-run business had amassed a stock of 2 million items, and there was simply not enough storage space. In addition, it was no longer possible to rent out some of the costumes because they have become so valuable.
"A movie costume is an icon in its inner nature", explains Benjamin Webb, spokesperson for Angels, to ABC News. Much of Angel's stock cannot be hired out to the public. As Webb puts it, "Who would now insure the Obi cloak with the risk that people would run off with it?"
Stephanie Connell, a specialist for entertainment at Bonhams' auction, told ABC News that the escalating value of the costumes is a recent phenomena. "The film memorabilia market is not older than 20 years," she said. This explains why the Obi cloak got lost for at least 30 years and no one panicked.
"When the costume was used for the first time, worn by Sir Alec Guinness, 'Star Wars' was only a science fiction movie. No one would ever have thought that it would be the biggest hit in the history of cinema," says Webb.
Angels think it's possible that the Obi-Wan cloak was used in other films -- in the 1986 film "The Name of the Rose" as a monk's cloak and even more recently in "The Mummy."
Now film memorabilia is a huge business. The Givenchy dress worn by Audrey Hepburn in "Breakfast at Tiffany's" was sold for $900,000 last November and the Cowardly Lion costume from "The Wizard of Oz" was bought for $680,000.
Prices were much lower at the London auction, but many spectators were amazed at the number of clothes sold by Angels in one lot. "The Angels collection of film costumes is without doubt the largest and most important archive of its type ever to come to auction," says Jon Baddeley, group head of the Collector's Department at Bonhams' auction house.
Lovers of beautiful costumes, movie collectors and costume dealers were among the buyers. Webb says, "They were not only the super collectors that call anonymously on the phone but also common fathers and children who were ready to spend a few thousand dollars to bring home their favorite movie icons."