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Robby the Robot sells for record $5.38 million at auction

The auction price for the star robot of the 1956 sci-fi classic "Forbidden Planet" is tops for a movie prop.

Robbie The Robot Playing Baseball
Robby the Robot also appeared in MGM sci-fi movie "The Invisible Boy."
Getty Images

Records are meant to be broken, and Robby the Robot just crushed 'em.

The famous mechanical character from 1956 sci-fi classic "Forbidden Planet" sold Tuesday in New York for $5,375,000, the record price for a movie prop, according to Bonhams auction house

His price beat out that of Marilyn Monroe's white dress from "The Seven-Year Itch" and the original 1966 Batmobile, each of which sold earlier this decade for $4.6 million, according to Bonhams. (To be fair, the final price tag for the white dress was $5.6 million, but that included a $1 million commission on top of the $4.6 million winning bid.)

The name of Robby's buyer wasn't disclosed. But William Malone, a filmmaker, collector and Robby's previous owner, was shocked by the sale price. 

"I'm astounded by the result," Malone said in a statement, "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."

Bonhams described Robby as "one of the most iconic sci-fi figures to appear on the silver screen." At 7 feet all, 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, " Bonhams said. "Conceived and built by a team of MGM designers for the 1956 film ... Robby's groundbreaking appearance broke away from earlier clunky 'tin-can' designs for movie robots." 

Robby, which 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.

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