Sean Connery in Goldfinger
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images CC
Sean Connery in Goldfinger
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images CC

Every Prop Has a Story

Props frequently play a starring role in films. And when they do, collectors are happy to fork over big money for them. Naturally, the more valuable the items, the more likely attractive they become to thieves. While many of the more famous props that have been stolen or otherwise disappeared over the years were eventually found — including some that were missing for decades — the trail of a few has long since gone cold.


Related: The Most Legendary Movie and TV Cars of All Time

Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers, 1938
Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers, 1938 by David (CC BY)

Ruby Red Slippers, “Wizard of Oz”

A pair of ruby slippers from “The Wizard of Oz” — thought to be worth as much as $5 million — were stolen from the July Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, in August 2005. After a yearlong FBI investigation, the iconic footwear were recovered during an undercover operation in Minneapolis in 2018, 13 years after they went missing. Who stole them remains a mystery.


Related: The Most Expensive Clothing Items Ever Auctioned

The Bullitt Mustang on display at the LeMay Car Museum in Tacoma, WA in April 2019.
The Bullitt Mustang on display at the LeMay Car Museum in Tacoma, WA in April 2019. by J-Ham2000 (CC BY-SA)

Two Ford Mustangs, “Bullitt”

For years, gearheads thought the Ford Mustang GT fastback that flew through the streets of San Francisco in “Bullitt” was long gone. They were almost right. Two cars were used in the movie — the “hero” car driven by Steve McQueen and a stunt car that was heavily abused during filming and scrapped after the shoot. What remained of the stunt car was recovered in a Mexican junkyard in 2017 and restored. Meanwhile, the hero car was sold after filming and maintained a low profile for decades. It resurfaced in 2018 — used to help introduce Ford’s 2019 special edition Mustang 50 years after the film’s release — and was sold at auction in 2020 for $3.4 million.


Related: Crazy-Expensive Cars Destroyed by Hollywood

Easy Rider
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Captain America Chopper, “Easy Rider”

The Captain America chopper ridden by Peter Fonda in “Easy Rider” was believed to have been destroyed during the shooting of the film — or stolen at gunpoint along with similar bikes built for the movie, depending on which story you believe. But Dan “Grizzly Adams” Haggerty claimed he restored the wrecked star-spangled, heavily modified 1952 Harley before it sold at auction in 1996. Then another bike — that Haggerty also claimed was authentic — was sold in 2014 for $1.35 million. “There’s a big rat stinking someplace in this,” Fonda said at the time.  Now the first bike (which no longer runs) was sold again in June for $255,000. Is either one authentic?


Related: 11 Legendary Harley-Davidsons (and 5 Duds)

Maltese Falcon
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Statuettes, “The Maltese Falcon”

Multiple copies of “The Maltese Falcon'' statuettes were made for the 1941 Humphery Bogart film, leaving collectors to argue about their authenticity years later. Casino mogul Steve Wynn paid $4.1 million for one that Warner Bros. believes is real. But a lengthy 2016 Vanity Fair story concludes that it’s tough to say if several plaster birds actually appeared in the film — or if anyone really has an original.

Aston Martin DB5 (Skyfall)
Aston Martin DB5 (Skyfall) by DeFacto (CC BY-SA)

Aston Martin DB5, “Goldfinger”

The tricked out Aston Martin DB5 “gadget” car used in the James Bond film “Goldfinger” was bought at auction in 1986 for $250,000 and kept in storage in a hangar at a Florida airport — until it was stolen in 1997. Now, 25 years later, car blog Motorius says investigators for Art Recovery International think they have evidence that the vehicle is in the Middle East, though the location remains a little vague. Sounds sketchy.


Related: Most Iconic Movie and TV Cars

The Man With the Golden Gun
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Villain Gun, “The Man With the Golden Gun”

Lifting the gun of the world’s top assassin is pretty bold. But someone walked away with the key prop to the James Bond film “The Man With the Golden Gun” in October 2008. The missing gun — crafted for Bond villain Christopher Lee’s character — had been on display at Elstree Studios north of London where several movies in the series were shot. It was valued at about $162,000.

1964 Chevrolet Chevelle Malibu SS
1964 Chevrolet Chevelle Malibu SS by Georg Sander (CC BY-NC)

Chevy Chevelle Malibu, “Pulp Fiction”

Thieves boosted the 1964 Chevy Chevelle Malibu driven by John Travolta in “Pulp Fiction” from outside of owner Quentin Tarantino’s home in 1994. That seemed to be the end of the story with everyone guessing the car had been chopped since it was taken before the film was a hit. But in an unexpected plot twist, police working on another case discovered the car 19 years later. The owner, Bill Hemenez, who’d paid a substantial amount to restore the car — not knowing its role in the film or who Tarantino was — turned the car over to police, who returned it to Tarantino.

Spider-Man
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Spider-Man Suits, “Spider-Man”

Four “Spider-Man” suits valued at $50,000 each were stolen from the set of the Tobey Maguire film in 2001. Almost two years later, a former security guard for Warner Bros. and Sony and another man were arrested and charged in the case. At least three of the suits were recovered. The pair also was suspected in the disappearance of a Batman suit valued at $150,000 and a mannequin from Warner Bros. studio in 1996.

Iron Man
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Iron Man Suit, “Iron Man”

In May 2018 it was discovered that the gold and crimson suit worn by Robert Downey Jr. in the original “Iron Man'' film was missing from a Los Angeles warehouse. Police had no clues at the time the theft was reported and the suit — valued at more than $300,000 — remains missing.

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Fiberglass Cows, “World War Z”

They may not qualify as “iconic,” but two fiberglass cows wandered away from a “herd” in a field where filming for the Brad Pitt zombie flick “World War Z” was taking place in 2011. Local police said they weren’t notified of any theft, but it seems like a good bet that the security guard on duty at the time was sacked.