This controversial “Titanic” prop sold at a memorabilia auction for more than $700,000

It’s one of the most iconic and discussed props in film history: the floating wooden panel that saved Kate Winslet’s “Titanic” character Rose DeWitt Bukater from the icy waters of the North Atlantic after the titular ocean liner sank – but not Leonardo DiCaprio’s Jack Dawson. And it has now been auctioned for more than $700,000.

“Often mistakenly referred to as a door, the ornate structure was actually part of the door frame directly above the entrance to the first class lounge,” Heritage Auctions wrote in the auction notes.

The prop’s crucial role in the “big scene, big farewell” moment, as the auction house had described it, is that Rose floats on the floral panel while Jack, who had unsuccessfully tried to rest on it too, is the one succumbed to cold. When a lifeboat arrives, Rose is forced to release her hand from its frozen grip – uttering the famous phrase “I’ll never let go, I promise” through chattering teeth as she swims to her rescuers.

The Titanic leaves Southampton, England, on its maiden voyage on April 10, 1912. (AP file photo)

The ornate balsa wood panel was previously displayed at Planet Hollywood in Orlando, Florida, before being stored in its archives for about two decades, the auction house told CNN.

It was sold along with a number of other props at the Treasures From Planet Hollywood auction, which included memorabilia once on display at Planet Hollywood locations around the world, as well as from its archives. These included pieces like the whip from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and the ax from The Shining.

In total, the five-day auction brought in $15.7 million from nearly 1,600 lots to a press release.

But the Titanic’s flotsam won the prize for most expensive piece, far exceeding its starting price of $40,000 and selling for a total of $718,750 after a fierce bidding war.

Several other “Titanic” props were also put up for sale, including the pastel chiffon evening dress Rose wears on the night of the sinking in the film and the ship’s steering wheel, which sells for $118,750 and $200,000, respectively became.

A 2012 episode of the Discovery show “MythBusters” infamously stated that two people on the panel – which is about 2.4 meters long and just over a meter wide – could have survived long enough if they were one Added life to jacket for extra buoyancy. However, “Titanic” director James Cameron weighed in on the results, telling show hosts Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage that Jack still had to die.

And in 2022, Cameron, along with a hypothermia expert, tried to put an end to the debate once and for all by conducting a simulated test to see if two people with the same body mass as Winslet and DiCaprio were really on the same page Wood of the same size could have stayed afloat. Her final answer was: No, that wasn’t possible.

These theories were not additionally tested on the prop itself before the sale, as the auction house chooses to “handle all items with great care during transportation and storage,” Heritage Auctions told CNN. But the new owner, who wishes to remain anonymous, may well be planning a day by the pool, drawn by the allure of the two-decade-long mystery.

“What you’re seeing is this tremendous interest in the films of the 1980s and 1990s,” Joe Maddalena, executive vice president of Heritage Auctions, said in a statement. “There’s been a generational shift where these huge franchises of the 1980s and 1990s – the ‘Home Alone’, the ‘Indiana Jones’ films, the ‘Die Hard’ are now collectors’ favorites… collectors “finally reward these artifacts for what they are: cultural artifacts that resemble the fine art of antiquity.”

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