Succession coffee mugs and dresses from The Crown: hit TV shows sell off prized props

<span>Photograph: Guy Bell/REX/Shutterstock</span>
Photograph: Guy Bell/REX/Shutterstock

Celebrities are notorious for taking props from sets to keep as personal momentos. Daniel Radcliffe has admitted to taking several pairs of Harry Potter’s spectacles, while Adam Driver took home a lightsaber when filming wrapped on Star Wars. However, this could soon be a thing of the past as props from many of our most-loved TV shows are going up for auction.

Instead of reusing or archiving props and costumes, production companies are teaming up with auction houses to sell off entire sets from popular television series.

This week, the auction house Bonhams launched a free exhibition in London displaying more than 450 items from Netflix’s historical drama The Crown, which are to go under the hammer in two separate auctions in February.

Spanning everything from a replica of Diana’s “revenge” dress worn in the show by the actor Elizabeth Debicki – the original sold in 1997 for nearly £40,000 – to two miniature porcelain corgis modelled on versions spotted on Queen Elizabeth II’s desk at Windsor Castle, it is estimated the auction could make more than £1m.

However, this pales in comparison with the show’s vast budgets. Last year, financial statements revealed that each of the 10 episodes in season five cost £11.6m for each hour with lavish set designs skyrocketing the budget. However, the auction isn’t an attempt to recoup costs. Proceeds from a special live auction featuring 161 lots are going to a new programme for film students, the Left Bank Pictures – The Crown Scholarship, at the National Film and Television School.

While celebrity estate sales are commonplace, more recently a growing market for onscreen memorabilia has piqued public interest. Charlie Thomas, the head of sales at Bonhams, says The Crown auction is the first time an entire set from a singular production has gone on sale in the UK. “It’s completely unique, nothing like this has ever happened before.”

Elsewhere, on Sunday more than 200 items, including Waystar-branded coffee mugs, a “ludicrously capricious” Burberry bag and four “Boar on the Floor” plastic sausages, will go under the hammer as the US Heritage Auctions sells off a slew of one-of-a-kind keepsakes from the cult HBO TV show Succession.

Jax Strobel, Heritage Screenbid’s managing director who worked with HBO to assemble the online sale, describes the response from the public as “extraordinary”.

The most viewed items on the site include Kendall Roy’s Waystar Royco plastic ID badge and Tom Wambsgans’s black Calvin Klein wallet that includes a fake black credit card and wad of dollar bills. “Many fans have focused on the hidden details revealed in the documents created by a prop department,” Strobel says, highlighting Roman Roy’s undelivered eulogy written on pink note cards and a birthday card from Logan to Kendall, the happy birthday missive crossed out and replaced by “Cash Out and Fuck Off” handwritten in blue ink.

Meanwhile, a tutu worn by Sarah Jessica Parker in the opening credits of Sex and The City and originally found by the show’s costume designer, Patricia Field, in a “five-dollar bin at a midtown fashion showroom” is estimated to fetch over £10,000 in an online auction next week.

As for who will buy a replica of the coronation chair or a reproduction of Diana’s engagement ring, it’s anyone guess, with inquiries from America to the Middle East. Thomas says he could see the life-size replica of the gold state coach, estimated to fetch between £30,000 to £50,000, in a Las Vegas nightclub. As for the facade of No 10 Downing Street (£20,000 to £30,000), sans Larry the cat, would it surprise anyone if Boris Johnson placed a winning bid to secure it for parties at his moated mansion in Oxfordshire?

Not all fans are happy. “Only people with Succession money can participate at this point,” reads one comment on a Reddit forum flagging that bids for a stunt foam can of cranberry sauce used by Logan Roy to strike his grandson stand at over £260. Others have pointed out that many of the more generic royal pieces from The Crown’s set could have been reused elsewhere for sustainability purposes.

“I just wonder whether some of the best props might just disappear into private ownership never to be seen again,” says Scott Bryan, a TV critic and broadcaster. “In years to come there might be interest in an exhibition of a much-loved show from this era, and that might be harder if the props are spread out or hard to find.”

What our writers would choose …

Jonathan Freedland: Naturally I’m drawn to the silk chiffon strapless gown with asymmetrical ruffled flounce hemline worn by Sarah Jessica Parker in season 3, episode 17 of Sex and the City. Not so much for me, as for my wife, who was once mistaken for Carrie Bradshaw by a waiter in Paris – a moment that, even now, nearly two decades later, I struggle to convince her I did not stage. Nevertheless, and perhaps selfishly, I’d be putting my money behind a bid for the mocked-up cover of New York magazine, depicting the Roy family at war. One of the very specific pleasures of Succession was its genius for fictional media coverage – the bogus but believable stories crawling across the screen of ATN, Waystar Royco’s Fox News like channel, or the double-page spread in the New York Times during the Swede’s takeover (and yes, I did press pause to scrutinise every legible word of that one). To have a genuine fake on display in the downstairs loo would be too good to pass up. How much would I bid? I’d make like Logan – gathering intel on my rival suitors, then blowing each one out of the water before picking up my prize for a song.

Jess Cartner-Morley: When Sex and the City first came out, I wanted to be Carrie Bradshaw. Millions of women did. The tutu skirt she wore in the opening credits is the ultimate Carrie look, and a genius piece of costume design by Patricia Field, because it explains who the character is – outrageous, funny, romantic – in a single frame. Bidding is currently at $9,000 – a lot for a skirt Field paid $5 for in a sale bin, and it will likely go for much more. But surely an absolute snip for a cultural icon. I’d raise my paddle for sure. In the words of Carrie herself, “I like my money right where I can see it. Hanging in my closet.”

Sam Wollaston: My neighbourhood is slowly poshing up, there’s now even a Tesla parked a few doors down and our moss-covered Skoda Fabia is embarrassing the children. So in a (literal) bid to not just keep up with the Joneses but to overtake them (probably not literally), I’ll be having the reproduction gold state coach used in The Crown (seasons 3 and 6) and parking that outside. This replica of the gaudy rococo carriage built in 1762 for George III and used for big royal bashes ever since, is, says auction house Bonhams, a “unique opportunity to own the ultimate in regal transportation.” Perfect. I hope it has a decent sound system, I’m thinking booming hip-hop, on the school run.

Oh, engine not included! Well, how much can eight white horses cost? Or there’s always the donkey sanctuary I suppose. The carriage is expected to go for £30,000 to £50,000? Fine … well, not fine, but Tesla ballpark. And no one is even looking at your Tesla now, are they? Have Olivia Colman and Imelda Staunton ridden in it? I don’t think so…

John Crace: The door to No 10 is tempting. But where on earth would I put it? And with a guide price of £10,000, that’s a lot of money for something that’s going to rot in the garden. In any case, I’ve plenty of photos of me outside No 10 from the parties the prime minister reluctantly throws for lobby journalists each year. So from The Crown auction, it has to be the little sign that says “Cabinet Room”. The guide price for that starts at only £100 so is more or less affordable and it would look great on the landing outside my office at home.

The Succession auction is a little trickier. I’m not sure I’m the kind of guy who knows how to buy their way into the Rupert Murdoch world of the super rich. I mean, even a mock-up of a private jet that doesn’t go anywhere is going to bankrupt me. So it will have to be Greg’s Calvin Klein suit. Not just because I can identify with the needy outsider who longs to be accepted, but also as the current bid is only $410. Which feels seriously cheap, Logan Roy would approve.