What’s the price of fame?
On Tuesday, Sotheby’s discovered the answer as Hollywood memorabilia was auctioned off with all proceeds benefiting UNICEF. The charity event, organized by Liam Neeson, has already raised over $400,000 and concludes today.
The highest-ticket item was Mel Gibson‘s sword from the Oscar-winning “Braveheart” which sold for $170,000. Harrison Ford‘s bullwhip used in the “Indiana Jones” trilogy was donated by Steven Spielberg and brought in $74,000. A light saber from “Star Wars: Episode I–The Phantom Menace” collected $54,000, and a wedding gown worn by Oscar-nominee Julia Roberts in “Runaway Bride” fetched $16,000.
“I am genuinely stunned and humbled by the generosity of my colleagues in the business,” Neeson said. “Many have donated items they intended to keep forever. These really are pieces that money can’t buy, and I’m delighted that everyone has rallied round for such a good cause.”
Neeson spent more than a year sending letters and making phone calls to thousands of Hollywood stars for donations from their famous films. Neeson’s wife, Natasha Richardson, played a major role in organizing the event, called “Movie Action for Children.” All proceeds will be used to supply drugs that prevent mother-to-fetus transmission of AIDS in African countries.
At Tuesday’s auction, Neeson discussed the enormous rates of infection and explained that the necessary treatment to stop the prenatal transmission of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, costs only $4 per case. “We cannot take for granted the health of our children, ” he added.
Other memorable sales included a deck chair from “Titanic” that collected $7,000, and a Faberge-framed Cecil Beaton photograph of the late Audrey Hepburn, a former fellow UNICEF champion, that brought in $50,000. The lowest draw of the day was $1,000 for a birthday phone call from Michael Jackson.
The online sale continues today and features dresses from Courtney Cox-Arquette’s role on “Friends” and Oscar-winner Meryl Streep‘s performance in “The Bridges of Madison County,” costumes from “Meet the Parents” autographed by stars Robert De Niro and Ben Stiller, and boxing gloves from “Rocky” signed by Sylvester Stallone.