Family illness forces sale of Rings treasures

BANG FOR BUCKS: Lord of the Rings star John Rhys-Davies with the axe that sold for $183,000.
BANG FOR BUCKS: Lord of the Rings star John Rhys-Davies with the axe that sold for $183,000.

Almost $2 million of Lord of the Rings movie props went under the hammer in a worldwide auction to raise funds for the collector's sick father.

Days after the premiere of the second Hobbit film The Desolation of Smaug, fans snapped up swords, costume pieces and prosthetics from a 92-piece collection in Los Angeles yesterday.

A bidding war erupted at Julien's auction house over the dwarf battleaxe carried by John Rhys-Davies playing Gimli in The Lord of the Rings. It eventually fetched the auction's highest price, of $183,000. The sword Sting, carried by Elijah Wood as Frodo Baggins, and also seen in The Hobbit, sold for $158,000.

The collection was owned by Tolkien and Peter Jackson fan Troika Brodsky, whose memorabilia included film canisters, crew shirts and call sheets from filming between 1999 and 2004. It was thought to be the second-largest collection in the world, surpassed only by director Sir Peter Jackson's.

More than half the lots sold, netting over $732,000. But the 18-carat gold One Ring prototype, worth $61,000, didn't reach its reserve.

Brodsky, of Missouri, said it was difficult to part with his collection, but he was doing it for his family. "Sadly, my father was stricken ill this past January with an incurable brain tumour... selling the collection, if successful, could potentially remove a large chunk of financial anxiety looming over our heads."

If the auction went well, he hoped to help pay off the mortgage for his mother, who had struggled financially since losing her job.

"The other purchase would be for an engagement ring for the love of my life. One way or the other, I still get to pretend to be The Lord of the Rings."

He went to great lengths to amass the collection, even tracking down New Line Cinema competition winners to buy props, including the sword of Viggo Mortensen's character Aragorn.

He said there were two rather precious pieces he was keeping, but did not name them. "I would have loved to have kept Sting."

Spokesman Matt Dravitzki said Jackson's Wingnut Films had no involvement in the auction.

The Dominion Post