Forbidden Planet’ robot sets price record

Robby the Robot from sci-fi film Forbidden Planet has become the world’s most expensive piece of classic movie memorabilia after selling for more than $5million.

The seven-foot robot which has metal claws, a domed head and speaks 188 languages, starred in the 1956 film as the servant of Dr Morbius on Altair IV – known as the Forbidden Planet.

The robot was auctioned by Bonhams New York for a world record price $5,375,000 in the TCM Presents* Out of This World! auction.

It smashed the $5million paid in 2013 for the Maltese Falcon statuette from the cinema noir classic of the same name to become the most valuable film prop sold at auction.

The robot also beat the prices paid for the white dress worn by Marilyn Monroe in The Seven-Year Itch, which made $4.6million in 2011, and the original 1966 Batmobile, that sold for $4.6million in 2013.

Bonhams, which conducted the auction, said the price beat the previous prop record of $4 million for the 12-inch falcon statue in the Humphrey Bogart classic “The Maltese Falcon” and topped the $4.6 million for the white dress worn by Marilyn Monroe in “The Seven Year Itch.”

“Robby the Robot is one of those symbols of American culture that is embedded in our DNA,” Catherine Williamson, director of entertainment memorabilia at Bonhams, said in a statement.

Robby, with a glass dome head and functioning limbs that included legs that look like stacked bowling balls, is a devoted servant to Professor Morbius. The robot stole scenes in the movie “Forbidden Planet” with his dry sense of humor and body parts that light up when he speaks.

The three-piece prop was built at a cost of about $100,000, which, adjusted for inflation, would be nearly $1 million today.

The name of the buyer was not released.

Dr Catherine Williamson, the director of Entertainment Memorabilia at Bonhams, said: ‘This is an out-of-this-world result for one of the most loved items in movie history.

‘Robby the Robot is one of those symbols of American culture that is embedded in our DNA.

The seven-foot robot which has metal claws, a domed head and speaks 188 languages, starred in the 1956 film as the servant of Dr Morbius on Altair IV - known as the Forbidden Planet

The seven-foot robot which has metal claws, a domed head and speaks 188 languages, starred in the 1956 film as the servant of Dr Morbius on Altair IV – known as the Forbidden Planet

‘We are thrilled for the consignor, William Malone, who has cared for Robby for so many years and we are delighted that so many of Robby’s fans took the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see him at Bonhams.’

Forbidden Planet is based on Shakespeare’s The Tempest and is based in set in 2257.

It follows a space crew, led by The Naked Gun star Leslie Nielsen, who investigate the silence from a planet inhabited by scientists. They find all but two, Dr Morbius and his daughter Altaira, have been killed by a monster which roams the planet.

The fully-functional prop is broken down into three pieces: the head, the torso, and the legs

The fully-functional prop is broken down into three pieces: the head, the torso, and the legs

Robby the Robot, which is Dr Morbius’s servant, is programmed to obey the Three Laws of Robotics – to not injure a human, obey orders from humans and protect its own existence as long as it doesn’t conflict with the first two laws.

The fully-functional prop is broken down into three pieces: the head, the torso, and the legs.

In addition to Robby himself, the lot also included the Jeep he drives on Altair IV, the auxiliary control panel, and his original MGM packing crates.

Robby the Robot cost studio MGM a fortune to make and when filming was concluded he wasn’t confined to the prop room.

Instead, he went on tour – appearing in The Twilight Zone, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and Mork and Mindy.

Robby’s previous owner, filmmaker and collector William Malone, said: ‘I’m astounded by the result, but also sad to part with him.

‘However, it’s time Robby finds a place where he can be displayed, and with someone who can look after him. Of course, he will leave an empty spot in my house – and in my heart.’

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