Records are meant to be broken and Robby the Robot has his.
The famous mechanical character from 1956 sci-fi classic “Forbidden Planet” sold yesterday for $5.375 million, the record price for a movie prop, the Bonhams New York auction house announced. His price beat out that of Marilyn Monroe’s white dress from “The Seven-Year Itch” and the original 1966 Batmobile, both of which sold for $4.6 million, according to Bonhams.
Robby’s buyer wasn’t disclosed, but his previous owner, filmmaker and collector, William Malone, was shocked by the sale price.
“I’m astounded by the result,” Malone said, “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.”
“One of the most iconic sci-fi figures to appear on the silver screen,” Bonhams said, “seven-foot tall Robby the Robot captured the imagination of audiences everywhere in ‘Forbidden Planet’ as the devoted servant to Professor Morbius, one of the few inhabitants of the distant planet Altair IV. Conceived and built by a team of MGM designers for the 1956 film, including Mentor Huebner and Robert Kinoshita, Robby’s groundbreaking appearance broke away from earlier clunky ‘tin-can’ designs for movie robots.”
Robby, who cost $100,000 to build, is still fully functional, according to the auction house, and breaks down into 3 pieces (head, torso and legs). In addition to Robby himself, Bonhams said, the lot also included the Jeep he drives on Altair IV, the auxiliary control panel, and his original MGM packing crates.