There was a bidding war inside Julien's Auctions over an axe. Specifically, it was the axe used by actor John Rhys-Davies when he played Gimli in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. It's what is known in the movie prop collection world as a "hero prop."
Liz Ohanesian Troika Brodsky stands in the middle of what was his Lord of the Rings collection.
The axe is heavy, made of metal and wood with a leather grip. It's housed in its original display case and comes with a Certificate of Authenticity. A decade ago, this axe was a prize in a sweepstakes held by New Line Cinema and Hasbro toys. Now the representatives of bidders who aren't physically in this room volley the price higher and higher. Gimli's axe suddenly became worth far more than its estimated value of $50-70,000. In the end, there were cheers for a winner we didn't see. The axe sold for $180,000.
Thursday afternoon, the Beverly Hills auction house fostered the sale of the second largest solely-owned collection of props, costumes and other memorabilia from the Lord of the Rings films. In case you're wondering, the largest collection belongs to Peter Jackson, who helmed the film trilogy. That second largest collection, though, was, until yesterday, owned by Troika Brodsky of St. Louis, Missouri. Brodsky is a longtime fan of The Lord of the Rings who, by day, works for a craft brewery. He spent the past ten years accumulating this collection.
That Gimli axe was his first major piece. He didn't win the axe, but managed to track down the family in Ithaca, New York who did. He paid them enough to get the daughter her first car. Years later, Brodsky auctioned off that same axe to help his own family.More »