The world’s most expensive collectibles are a diverse and eclectic bunch. From toys to cars to jewelry, they all make up the list of the most expensive items people will pay millions to own. In fact, the price tag on some of the most expensive collectibles in history is even prohibitive for the most affluent of connoisseurs.
However, for the most passionate and knowledgeable collectors, possessing the rarest accessory is the ultimate conquest. For this reason, it’s not surprising to find the following thirteen incredible pieces that are now considered priceless because of their rarity and uniqueness. Check out these rare and expensive items below!
Metropolis Movie Poster – The World’s Most Expensive Movie Item
The 1927 Metropolis film produced by German director Fritz Lang holds several records. First, the futuristic movie is the most expensive silent film ever made. Perhaps this precipitated its second record.
Sold in 2012 for $1.2 million at an LA bankruptcy court auction, the international version of the Metropolis film poster is the most expensive movie poster in the world. Although there are only four copies of it, the piece that sold was bought by Ralph DeLuca.
While there are three other pieces in possession of Leonardo DiCaprio, New York’s Museum of Modern Art, and the Austrian National Library, Ralph DeLuca was the winning bidder for the auctioned copy of the piece that was sold.
The Leica 0-Series – The World’s Most Expensive Camera
The most expensive camera in the world, the Leica-0 is one of a series of 25 prototypes created in 1923. As prototypes, they were used as base models to create the Leica I, the first of Leica’s 35mm models.
With only 12 of these rare cameras left today, it isn’t hard to see why one sold at an auction for a whopping $2.79 million (€2.16 million).
The camera sold within minutes of being listed for $387,000, with bids quickly reaching a whopping $2.3 million. The buyer’s identity was not disclosed after the sale.
Honus Wagner Model – The World’s Most Expensive Baseball Card
If you love baseball and collect trading cards, you probably heard about Honus Wagner. Even though this Holy Grail of baseball cards wasn’t made rare on purpose, this unique piece of sports memorabilia was sold for $3.12 million in 2016.
The American Tobacco Company issued the card, but Hall of Famer Honus Wagner didn’t allow them to distribute his image on a tobacco card. So only a few of these made it out into circulation, turning an ordinary card into arguably the rarest and the most coveted trading card ever made.
While some claim that Wagner refused to allow his image to be used in the cigarette cards because he did not want to encourage young fans to smoke, others theorize that he denied the company permission to use his image as he was not compensated for his appearance.
The 1890 “$1,000” Note – The World’s Most Expensive Banknote
Also called the Grand Watermelon, a “$1,000” note that dates back to 1890 is the most expensive banknote in the world. It is called the Grand Watermelon due to the color, shape, and markings on the significant zeros imprinted on the banknote.
The Grand Watermelon sold for $3.29 million in January of 2014. But, like most items on our list, it was also sold at an auction. Its worth is closely tied to its rarity and year of creation. Sometimes, a thousand dollars isn’t equal to a thousand dollars.
The Astolat Castle Dollhouse – The World’s Most Expensive Toy
The Astolat Castle Dollhouse is the most expensive toy in the world, if we can still call it a toy. It is a piece that stands 2.75 meters tall and was created between 1974 and 1987 by Elaine Diehl and other artists.
Containing 29 rooms built with impeccable details, the dollhouse was purchased by an anonymous collector for $10.9 million (€8.5 million).
The dollhouse is fully furnished with accessories like lamps and fireplaces that actually work like their real-world counterpart. It also houses over 10,000 miniature items, including the world’s smallest bible, artworks, gold chandeliers, and even a table of drinks.
Romanée-Conti – The World’s Most Expensive Wine
Considered the most premium wine in Burgundy during its time, the whopping sale of the Romanée-Conti brand of wines doesn’t come as a surprise.
One 75cl Romanée-Conti bottle was sold for $558,000 in October 2018. This sale was organized by the Sotheby Auction House in New York
The exact brand of wine that made this sale was created in 1945. So why was a 1945 bottle that expensive? Well, the peculiar fact is that only about 600 of these were brewed, making them rarer than bottles created in any other year.
The Rothschild Fabergé Egg – The World’s Most Expensive Clock
Some of the most priced pieces of Russian jewelry, Fabergé eggs, were created by the House of Fabergé between 1885 to 1917. Unfortunately, only 57 survive today, and one of these is the Rothschild Fabergé Egg, which has a clock incorporated into it.
Of course, Russian jewelry is more valued by natives, and a Russian collector purchased this piece of Fabergé in 2007 for $17.4 million (€13.5 million). This exact piece was created in 1902 for the engagement of Baron Edouard de Rothschild, a French aristocrat.
The pink, translucent clock is beautified with gold, precious stones, and a rooster that appears at the top at the close of every hour.
The Lady Blunt Model – The World’s Most Expensive Musical Instrument
The world’s most expensive musical instrument is the violin, created way back in 1721. Violins originated in Italy, and you’d expect pieces from the most famous Italian violin maker to be the most expensive.
The Lady Blunt model, named after its first owner, Lady Anne Blunt, is a violin created by Antonio Giacomo Stradivari. It sold for $15.9 million in 2011.
Lady Anne Blunt was the daughter of Lord Byron, the famous poet, making the violin even more precious. Unsurprisingly, it is one of the most preserved violins in the world today and is currently owned by the Nippon Music Foundation.
The Double Eagle – The World’s Most Expensive Coin
Here is another collector’s item worth way more than its face value. The Double Eagle is a gold $20 coin that dates back to 1933. It gets its rarity from being the last gold currency in the US.
Auctioned in 2002 for $7.5 million, the gold coin hadn’t even reached its peak. The Double Eagle was finally auctioned off at Sotheby’s in June 2021 for a whopping $18.9 million to an anonymous buyer.
Today, it is the only legitimate privately-owned Double Eagle in existence. An extra fun fact is that it was auctioned off alongside the most expensive stamp in the world, the One-Cent Magenta, for $8.3 million.
The Leicester Codex – The World’s Most Expensive Book
Owned by Bill Gates and written by Leonardo Da Vinci, the Leicester Codex is a book with some big names. It is the only privately owned item created by Leonardo Da Vinci.
Bill Gates bought the 72-page manuscript produced between 1506 and 1510 in 1994 for $30.8 million. Going from hand to hand the book was first called the Leicester Codex in 1717 when it was owned by the first Earl of Leicester (Thomas Cook), then named the Hammer Codex when it was part of the Armand Hammer collection.
Bill Gates renamed it the Leicester Codex upon purchase. One interesting fact about the book is that it was written in mirror image, meaning you can only read it properly when you place the text against a mirror.
Stan – The World’s Most Expensive Fossil
Named Stan, the Fossil of a Tyrannosaurus Rex (T-Rex) discovered in 1987 is the most complete specimen in the world. The 70%-complete fossil took over 30,000 hours to assemble.
On the 6th of October, 2020, an anonymous buyer bought the fossil for $31.8 million after the Black Hills Institute of Geological Research was forced to sell it by a legal ruling.
Today, the fossil is owned by the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism, which announced its purchase in March 2022 and intends to display it in a new museum in 2025.
Ru Guanyao – The World’s Most Expensive Tableware
The Ru Guanyao is rare Chinese tableware that dates back to the Song Dynasty. It was used to clean small brushes at the time.
In 2017, the Ru Guanyao sold for $37.6 million at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong. What’s more, the piece only took about 20 minutes to reach this price at the auction.
This 900-year-old piece of tableware is rare because the production of its brand only lasted for two decades. However, it also beholds beautiful designs, featuring a glazed effect and an intense mixture of blue and green shades.
The Hope Diamond – The World’s Most Expensive Jewel
The Hope Diamond is a 42.52-carat piece that belonged to Louis XIV, the King of France, in 1668. Known as the Bleu de France (blue diamond), it has unfortunately lost some of its brilliance due to a rough cut and being passed through many jewelers. Nevertheless, there’s an exciting story to the most expensive piece on our list.
The most expensive jewel in the world is, ironically, not the most desired piece of jewelry you’ll come across. People say a curse on it has made its owners witness terrible fates like bankruptcy, car accidents, death, madness, and even suicide.
The final owner didn’t even sell it but gave it off as a donation to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in 1958. It was then insured for $278 million.
For collectors, some pieces are worth more than others. And the value of each piece has to do with two main things—history and rarity. If something comes with a lot of history and it’s rare, then you can be sure it’s worth a pretty penny.
The items on this list hit that sweet spot of being valuable and difficult to come by. Surprised by some of these items? Many of them are even more expensive than the most expensive paintings in the world.