Leonardo Da Vinci's Codex Leicester
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25 Rare Collectibles Worth More Than Your House

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Leonardo Da Vinci's Codex Leicester
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Auction Action

The "Buy It Now" button eliminated much of the suspense from eBay auctions, and bidding for low hotel prices doesn't count, but if you've ever been in a war for a classic car, repossessed home, or even a few head of cattle, you know how exhilarating true auctions can be and how quickly the bidding can get out of hand. We've scoured years' worth of lots from Sotheby's, Christie's, Barrett Jackson, and elsewhere and found a handful of the most highly coveted auction items of all time.

Related: 30 Collectibles That Are Now Worthless

Elvis Presley's Hair
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25. Elvis Presley's Hair

Price: $115,000
Sold: 2002
Elvis fan Tom Morgan seemed attached to this lock of Presley's hair, but as a municipal employee in Tennessee he had a retirement to pay for. His gift from Presley's barber, who kept it in a bread bag, ended up with the highest price ever paid for a lock of hair. That is no small feat, considering that John Lennon ($48,000), John F. Kennedy ($3,000), Beethoven ($7,300), and Che Guevara ($119,500, with fingerprints and death photographs) have all had locks sell for huge amounts.

Related: Elvis Had a Pet Chimp and More Fun Facts About Graceland

Michael Jackson Rhinestone Glove
Michael Jackson/Facebook

24. Michael Jackson's Rhinestone Glove

Price: $420,000
Sold: 2009
To be clear, there were many copies of this glove made over the years, with most selling for six figures. Hong Kong businessman Hoffman Ma snagged the glove Jackson wore in 1983 when he did his first moonwalk during the "Motown 25" television special. That wasn't going to sell cheaply.

Lance Armstrong's Damien Hirst Butterfly Bicycle
Bryn Lennon/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

23. Lance Armstrong's Damien Hirst Butterfly Bicycle

Price: $500,000
Sold: 2009
This Trek Madone bicycle modified by artist Damien Hirst and ridden by Lance Armstrong during the final stage of the 2009 Tour de France sold to raise money for Armstrong's Livestrong cancer charity. Hirst's decorations used real butterfly wings lacquered onto the frame, angering animal-rights activists. It was a rougher road for Armstrong in the years following this sale, which marked one of the high points of his wild ride.

Dracula (1931) Movie Poster

22. Dracula (1931) Movie Poster

Price: $525,800
Sold: 2017
Bela Lugosi's 1931 film "Dracula" still rates as a horror classic and helped launch Universal Studios' legion of movie monsters. This print is incredibly rare — one of exactly two of its size — and unlikely to come up again. Who bought it? The auction house won't say, but the Robb Report points to a certain horror-obsessed member of Metallica.


21. Mist the Cow

Price: $1.3 million
Sold: 1985
Why pay this much for a Holstein cow? Jerome Rappaport, who was Mist's owner before the auction, led a group that did so "to generate the concept of the value of the cow." Rappaport wanted to illustrate the worth of a high-pedigree show cow whose "milk has a high butterfat content" and who produced 14 offspring. ''Five or six of her offspring have sold collectively for $500,000,'' he told The Associated Press at the time, ''and she's still a young cow. She can be the founder of a great generation of cows.''

Reach out to Asia
Reach out to Asia by Ludwik.kazmierczak (CC BY-SA)

20. 'Reach Out to Asia' Fender Stratocaster

Price: $2.7 million
Sold: 2005
During an auction in Qatar to raise money for victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, a Fender Stratocaster guitar was placed up for bid — just a guitar, but one that happened to be signed by Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, Mick Jagger, Ronnie Wood, Brian May, David Gilmour, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Mark Knopfler, Pete Townshend, Tony Iommi, Angus Young, Malcolm Young, Sting, Ritchie Blackmore, members of Def Leppard, Bryan Adams, Liam Gallagher, and Paul McCartney.

Mark Mcgwire 70th Home Run Baseball
Elsa/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images North America

19. Mark Mcgwire 70th Home Run Baseball

Price: $3 million
Sold: 1999
Mark McGwire hasn't swayed Hall of Fame voters with his slugging feats of the late '90s, but even the steroid scandals of the era can't take away the best at-bats-per-home-run ratio in the history of baseball (10.61, compared with Babe Ruth's 11.80). This is the ball he hit in 1998 to beat the Chicago Cubs' Sammy Sosa for most home runs in a single season. Comic book artist Todd McFarlane bought the record-breaking 70th-home-run baseball and tucked it among nine other Sosa and McGwire baseballs from the season.

Louis XVI Grande Sonnerie

18. Louis XVI Ormolu-mounted Ebony Grande Sonnerie

Price: $3 million
Sold: 1999
Sold at Christie's in London, this stunning piece was owned by French diplomat and statesman César Gabriel de Choiseul, who helped end the Seven Years War and served at the side of Louis XV. But since Louis' son was a less-than-ideal successor (and was guillotined for it), the clock was sold during the French Revolution. It ended up in the collection of the Barons Nathaniel and Albert von Rothschild, who got rid of it as part of a sale that brought in $90 million.

Honus Wagner Baseball Card
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17. Honus Wagner Baseball Card

Price: $3.1 million
Sold: 2016
Only 200 of American Tobacco's T206 series baseball cards were made, and just a quarter remain. But this "jumbo" Wagner is somewhat larger than most of its ilk and, unlike more contentious versions, hasn't been trimmed. Just about any version of this card will fetch a huge price for rarity; Pittsburgh Pirates player Honus Wagner demanded it be removed from the card series because he didn't like the idea of marketing tobacco to kids.

Related: 23 Sports Collectibles That Scored Big at Auction

Rhine II Photograph
Wikimedia Commons

16. Andreas Gursky's 'Rhein Li' (1999) Photograph

Price: $4.3 million
Sold: 2011
The second and largest photo of a set of six depicting the river Rhine, this image isn't all it appears. Gursky used digital editing to take dog walkers and a factory building out of the scene. It's a view of the Rhine that simply doesn't exist, which is why this huge print mounted on acrylic glass was so coveted by previous owners, a German collector and Galerie Monika Sprüth in Cologne.

Marilyn Monroe's 'Happy Birthday Mr. President' Dress
Getty Images/Hulton Archive

15. Marilyn Monroe's 'Happy Birthday Mr. President' Dress

Price: $4.8 million
Sold: 2016
Marilyn Monroe serenading President John F. Kennedy with "Happy Birthday" during a Democratic Party fundraiser on May 19, 1962, was the moment that launched hundreds of conspiracy theories, aided by this flesh-colored, accentuating, sheer gown with 2,500 hand-stitched rhinestones. Originally sold for more than $1 million by the widow of Monroe's acting coach, Lee Strasberg, in 1999, it was sold again to Ripley's Believe It or Not!

Francis Crick in his office
Francis Crick in his office by Marc Lieberman (CC BY)

14. 'Secret of Life' Letter

Price: $6.1 million
Sold: 2013
In 1953, Francis Crick penned a letter to his 12-year-old son, Michael Crick, outlining his discovery of the structure and function of DNA. The seven-page handwritten letter, known as "Secret of Life" describes that discovery as "beautiful" and included a sketch of DNA's double helix structure. In 1962, Crick, James Watson, and Maurice Wilkins got the Nobel Prize in medicine for their work with Rosalind Franklin on unlocking the human genome.

Napoleon's Sword
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13. Napoleon's Sword

Price: $6.5 million
Sold: 2007
Nothing that shaped the iconic look of an emperor will go cheaply … or quietly. Once belonging to Napoleon Bonaparte and used in the battle of Marengo in 1880, this sword was sold on the condition that the owner maintain a residence in France and keep the sword there for six months of the year. After the battle, Napoleon gave the sword to his brother as a wedding gift, and it was passed down through generations of family. The sword was declared a national treasure in 1978.

One-Cent Magenta Stamp
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12. 1856 One-Cent Magenta Stamp From British Guiana

Price: $9.5 million
Sold: 2014
This is the only known example of the rarest of stamp, and it sold for nearly 1 billion times its face value. Printed on a newspaper press and rediscovered by a 12-year-old Scottish boy living in South America in 1873, it has set records each time it's changed hands since 1900. In 1922, it sold for $32,500; in 1970, $280,000. During its previous sale in 1980, it fetched $935,000 and ended up in the collection of From of John W. Dupont, who received a tenfold return on his investment.

Bay Psalm Book
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11. Bay Psalm Book

Price: $14.2 million
Sold: 2013
This is the the first book printed in what would become the United States. In 1640, the Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Colony created a new poetic translation of the Psalms that was meant to adhere as closely to the Hebrew original as possible. Written by John Cotton, Richard Mather, and John Eliot — among other ministers and scholars in New England — it was printed on a press sent from England for that sole purpose. Of the 1,700 copies made, just 11 survive. This was the first sold since 1947.

Vieuxtemps Guarneri Del Gesu Violin
Anne Akiko Meyers/Facebook

10. Vieuxtemps Guarneri Del Gesu Violin

Price: $16 million
Sold: 2012
Italian craftsman Antonio Stradivari may be the most famous luthier — creator of string instruments — in history, but it's Bartolomeo Giuseppe Antonio Guarnieri, grandson of one of Stradivari's apprentices, fetching the highest price. Guarnieri created this instrument in 1741 just before dying at age 46. It is currently played by Anne Akiko Meyers, who was given it on loan for the rest of her life.

The Green Monkey

9. The Green Monkey (A Horse)

Price: $16 million
Sold: 2006
A descendent of the legendary Northern Dancer and Secretariat, the Green Monkey came into this world with high expectations. Yet the Forestry Colt took part in only three races before retiring and going out to stud in Florida for $5,000 per session. Green Monkey was euthanized this year at 14, and his owners don't seem at all disappointed in how his life and career turned out.

Statue of Artemis in the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Statue of Artemis in the Metropolitan Museum of Art by Ana Lauriano Lauriano (CC BY)

8. 'Artemis and the Stag' Bronze Sculpture

Price: $28.6 million
Sold: 2007
Construction workers came across this 2,000-year-old bronze sculpture in Rome in the 1920s. This 36-inch statue of the Goddess of the Hunt was found during the rebuilding of houses near St. John Lateran cathedral in Rome and led the Vatican to conduct excavations discovering parts of private houses or villas dated to the second century A.D., some decorated with wall paintings. The statue of Artemis is likely to have graced the halls or gardens of such places.

Leonardo Da Vinci's Codex Leicester
Wikimedia Commons

7. Leonardo Da Vinci's Codex Leicester

Price: $31 million
Sold: 1994
Da Vinci wasn't just a painter. Giving "renaissance man" its definition, Da Vinci lived a life of the mind and sketched out his thoughts in journals, of which 30 remain — and of which this 72-page tome compiled between 1506 and 1513 is considered most important for his thoughts relating to tides, eddies, dams, and the relationship between the moon, Earth, and sun. Its owner, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, released a digitally scanned version three years after buying it.

The Clark Sickle-leaf Carpet

6. The Clark Sickle-Leaf Carpet

Price: $33.7 million
Sold: 2013
The Corcoran Gallery of Art would likely loved to have kept this Persian carpet, but it was sold at Sotheby's in New York to raise money for future gallery acquisitions. Industrialist and senator William Clark willed it to the gallery after his death in 1925, but this carpet dates back to the early 1700s and likely came from Kerman Province in what is now Iran. The sickle-leaf is a rare design found among carpets made using the"vase" weaving technique, making this a gem among floor coverings.

Badminton Cabinet
Graeme Robertson/Getty Images News/Getty Images Europe

5. Badminton Cabinet

Price: $36 million
Sold: 2004
Ikea, this isn't. An 18th century Florentine ebony chest inlaid with amethyst quartz, agate, lapis lazuli, and other stones, this piece broke its own record as the most expensive piece of furniture sold at auction. No racquets are hidden among its drawers; it's named for its two-century stay in Badminton, England. In 1990, Christie's sold it to billionaire Barbara Piasecka Johnson (of the Johnson & Johnson fortune) for $16.6 million. Johnson put it up for auction, where it was bought by Prince Hans Adam II of Liechtenstein for donation to the Liechtenstein Museum in Austria.

Related: Vintage Ikea Furniture Pieces That Resell for Serious Money

1963 Ferrari 250 GTO Berlinetta
1963 Ferrari 250 GTO Berlinetta by Sicnag (CC BY)

4. 1962-63 Ferrari 250 GTO Berlinetta

Price: $48.4 million
Sold: 2018
Why this car? Well, just 36 were made, and this one — chassis 3413 — was one of four with upgraded features and one of just seven built with a more aggressive body designed by Pininfarina. Besides, that's a discount: Another of the model sold privately this year, rather than at auction, for $70 million.

Pink Star Diamond

3. Pink Star Diamond

Price: $71.2 million
Sold: 2017
This 59.60-carat oval, mixed-cut Fancy Vivid Pink Internally Flawless diamond was too much for Hong Kong jeweler Chow Tai Fook to resist. Mined by De Beers in Africa in 1999, it is the largest such diamond the Gemological Institute of America has graded. Chow Tai Fook even rebranded it the CTF Pink Star in memory of the late Dr. Cheng Yu-Tung, the father of the current chairman and the founder of Chow Tai Fook.

L'Homme Au Doigt Sculpture
Wikimedia Commons

2. 'L'Homme Au Doigt' Sculpture by Alberto Giacometti

Price: $141.3 million
Sold: 2015
This 1947 bronze sculpture is one of a few the artist produced, with versions residing in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Tate Gallery. This is the all-time record price for a sculpture, and hedge-fund billionaire Stephen A. Cohen was happy to come away with it. It wasn't even the most expensive art sold at Christie's that night.

Leonardo Da Vinci's Salvator Mundi
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1. Leonardo Da Vinci's 'Salvator Mundi'

Price: $450 million
Sold: 2017
Leonardo da Vinci isn't exactly producing new works, and individuals and institutions that own what he's created are reluctant to let them go. This is one of fewer than 20 existing paintings generally accepted as being created by him, so calling "Saviour of the World" rare is an understatement. Dating back to nearly 1500, the painting was found seven years ago in a small regional auction. Painted over on several occasions, it was the first da Vinci discovered since the "Benois Madonna" in 1909. Now no one seems to know where the painting is.