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Want to own the wood panel from Titanic? Planet Hollywood is auctioning 1,600+ items

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

In Dallas today, more than 1,600 items of Hollywood history are up for auction - everything from design sketches and prop swords to Arnold Schwarzenegger's leather jacket from "Terminator 2." This huge assortment of movie memorabilia comes from the restaurant chain Planet Hollywood. Jerome Weeks of member station KERA takes a look at what's for sale.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE TEN COMMANDMENTS")

CHARLTON HESTON: (As Moses) The Lord of hosts will do battle for us.

JEROME WEEKS, BYLINE: The parting of the Red Sea in the 1965 film, "The Ten Commandments," is an iconic special effect sequence. As Moses, Charlton Heston raises his wooden staff.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE TEN COMMANDMENTS")

HESTON: (As Moses) Behold His mighty hand.

WEEKS: Wait. Actually, that staff wasn't wood. It's sculpted fiberglass, and you can buy it - yes, the actual movie prop. It's one of the many costumes, set pieces, posters and promotional items for sale online and on-site here in Dallas through Sunday from Heritage Auctions. In their heyday, each Planet Hollywood had what amounted to a small movie museum inside. Brian Chanes is a senior director at Heritage. He went through the Florida warehouses where Planet Hollywood stored these things for years.

BRIAN CHANES: I know the word gets bandied about too often, but it is a once-in-a-lifetime scenario because they were an institutional collector. So they had deep pockets, so they could scour the earth to find the best of the best.

WEEKS: Planet Hollywood started in 1991. Robert Earl, the restaurant chain's CEO, explained its basic appeal in an online interview with Heritage Auctions.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ROBERT EARL: Unless you were in LA or possibly New York, you never saw the real celebrity. You didn't have any involvement in any extension of the movie or their lives, and we afforded that.

WEEKS: So the restaurant chain wasn't about the food. It was about the possibility of meeting movie stars or just getting up close to something they wore on screen. The chain expanded aggressively in the 1990s. By 1999, Planet Hollywood had 80 locations worldwide. It had resorts, stores, hotels, even a casino. But its stock price that year was $1. The firm eventually filed for bankruptcy twice. Today, Planet Hollywood is down to a handful of hotels and restaurants. At the auction, you can bid on stunt rocks used in "Braveheart" or one of Indiana Jones' bull whips.

(SOUNDBITE OF BULL WHIP SNAPPING)

WEEKS: Or perhaps more to your taste, you can bid on one of Marilyn Monroe's iconic dresses or the wooden panel that Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio cling to at the end of the movie "Titanic."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "TITANTIC")

IOAN GRUFFUDD: (As Fifth Officer Lowe) Is there anyone alive out there? Can anyone hear me?

WEEKS: Not every item on sale has a stratospheric starting bid, but you'll likely shell out more than $30,000 for Moses' fiberglass staff. And bidding for the custom Harley motorcycle Bruce Willis drove in "Pulp Fiction" - that starts at around $20,000.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "PULP FICTION")

MARIA DE MEDEIROS: (As Fabienne) Whose motorcycle is this?

BRUCE WILLIS: (As Butch Coolidge) It's a chopper, baby.

DE MEDEIROS: (As Fabienne) Whose chopper is this?

WILLIS: (As Butch Coolidge) Zed's.

DE MEDEIROS: (As Fabienne) Whose Zed?

WILLIS: (As Butch Coolidge) Zed's dead, baby.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOTORCYCLE ENGINE STARTING)

WEEKS: For NPR News, I'm Jerome Weeks in Dallas.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE LIVELY ONES' "SURF RIDER") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Jerome Weeks
Jerome Weeks is the Art&Seek producer-reporter for KERA. A professional critic for more than two decades, he was the book columnist for The Dallas Morning News for ten years and the paperâââ