Fancy yourself a bit of a film buff? What about a music maestro?
If pop culture is your bag, a fun and exciting way of making money can be to collect film and music memorabilia. Props, costumes and rare records can be a great investment, with some valuable items turning up in the strangest places.
Whether your interests lie with Elvis or The Spice Girls, Kubrick or Coppola, take a look at MoneyMagpie’s guide and bag yourself a piece of entertainment history…
These collectables have grown in popularity as music and films have become bigger business over the past few decades. According to recent reports, the film memorabilia industry is now worth £330 million and the value of film props has trebled in the past decade. If you play your cards right, you could take a slice of the pie.
Where can you make the most money, you might ask? The answer is that Hollywood memorabilia is much more popular (and therefore much more valuable) than items from British cinema. Even props and costumes related to the biggest British stars, such as John Gielgud, Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh, pale in comparison to names like Marilyn Monroe and Greta Garbo.
If you want to make some serious cash from film memorabilia, the answer is clear: do as others have done before you and, much like fame-seekers and gold prospectors of the past, head west (coast).
Films franchises with a cult following, predictably, are good places to start. Star Wars fans take note: a Tie Fighter pilot helmet went for £216,000 in 2017, whilst Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber was snapped up for a cool $450,000 the same year.
Want to take a punt on a British icon? We’d recommend James Bond (Sean Connery’s Aston Martin, as seen in Goldfinger and Thunderball, went for $4.6 million in 2010) and, of course, Harry Potter. The most expensive bit of Harry merch isn’t what you’d expect, though – the Golden Snitch and Harry’s Firebolt came nowhere near the £1.95 million that was spent on a hand-illustrated copy of The Tales Of Beedle The Bard in 2007.
Biggest film prop auctions of recent years:
- Casablanca, the piano, $3.4 million, 2014
- Forbidden Planet/The Invisible Boy, Robby the Robot, $5.3 million, 2017
- The Seven Year Itch, Marilyn Monroe’s white dress, $4.6 million, 2011
- The Maltese Falcon, $4.1 million, 2013
- My Fair Lady, Audrey Hepburn’s derby dress, $3.7 million, 2011
Find out how you can:
- Make money collecting Star Wars memorabilia
- Make money collecting James Bond memorabilia
- Make money from film posters
When it comes to music, you’ll hardly be surprised to hear that Beatles artifacts are the most collectable worldwide. In November 2011 a letter written by Sir Paul McCartney in 1960 inviting a drummer to audition for the Beatles sold at Christie’s for £35,000. Incredibly, the letter was found in a book bought at a car boot sale, so you really never know where you might find a rare treasure. More recently, the “world’s rarest Beatles album”, complete with sketches from John Lennon, sold for £180,000 at auction.
That’s nothing compared to the guitar once played as part of Pink Floyd, though, which sold at Christie’s for $3.97 million in 2019.
It seems that in music, even if not in film, the Brits are bringing in the most cash.
All this sounds great – but how do you go about building up a collection of, and eventually dealing in, film and music collectables?
As a rule, it’s best to concentrate on a particular artist or era that interests you to build up a specific collection rather than have bits and pieces from all over. Auction houses tend to feature these collections and serious collectors are often looking for job lots, so building up a collection based around one very specific era, genre or artist is likely to be your best bet.
Find out how you can make money collecting Elvis Presley memorabilia.
Original copies of famous records such as the Beatles’ White Album go for £200-300 and are a good place to start. Work your way up to rarer items and you could make thousands.
When buying, take a look at sites such as The Monster Company, which has a wide variety of props and memorabilia from films past and present. If you can identify a recently-released film which hasn’t experienced massive popularity but you think could achieve cult status in years to come, you could get a real bargain.
Fan forums are a good place to try and sell, as is eBay of course. Auction houses such as Christie’s and Bonhams regularly hold popular culture memorabilia auctions, with items of varying value.
Top dollar: 1983 Michael Jackson ‘Thriller’ jacket (£1.1 million – June 2011)
Don’t bother: 2002 Military uniform from James Bond film ‘Die Another Day’ (£60 – June 2009)