Floating Board From ‘Titanic’ Sells for Over $700,000

The infamous prop has long been the source of heated debate: Did Jack really have to die?

A still from Titanic showing Rose atop the board and Jack clinging to the side
Since Titanic premiered in 1997, skeptics have been insisting that Jack and Rose could have both survived on their makeshift raft.  CBS via Getty Images

One of the most iconic props in cinema history—the floating wooden panel from Titanic—has sold at auction for $718,750.

At the end of the film, after the ship sinks into the icy waters of the North Atlantic, Rose (played by Kate Winslet) climbs atop a wooden door frame. Her lover, Jack (played by Leonardo DiCaprio), clings to the panel’s edge, his body mostly submerged underwater. Though a rescue boat finally comes to save Rose, it’s too late for Jack.

The infamous scene has long been the subject of heated debate: Couldn’t the frame have supported both Rose and Jack while they waited for help to arrive? Even filmmaker James Cameron has weighed in, commissioning a scientific study to show that only one person could survive in such conditions.

During filming for the 1997 blockbuster, crews used a 17 million-gallon tank of water to represent the Atlantic Ocean. The door frame was made of balsa wood.

Prop door frame against white background
The prop is often referred to as a door, but it's actually part of a door frame from the entrance to the first-class lounge. Heritage Auctions

The prop found a new home on March 23 during a Heritage Auctions sale featuring 1,600 Hollywood artifacts from Planet Hollywood resorts and restaurants. Other hot-ticket items included the ax from The Shining, which sold for $125,000, and the whip from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, which sold for $525,000. A bowling ball from Kingpin brought in $350,000, while Princess Leia’s blaster from Return of the Jedi sold for $150,000.

The auction prompted so many bidding wars that auctioneers “lost track,” says Joe Maddalena, executive vice president at Heritage Auctions, in a statement.

“The extraordinary success of this auction proves what I’ve known all along: The interest in and appetite for modern movie props and costumes—all of which were once displayed in Planet Hollywoods worldwide or part of their legendary archives—is profound, deep and insatiable,” he adds.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of (@propspodcast)

The auction house also sold other Titanic props, including the ship’s helm wheel, Rose’s chiffon dress and a large brass engine order telegraph. But the controversial door panel—which is eight feet long and three and a half feet wide—was what everyone came to see.

Bidding started at $60,000 and soared to $700,000 in just a few minutes. As the price increased, the auctioneer encouraged bidders by emphasizing how important the prop was to the film, reports the Washington Post’s Kim Bellware.

“Before this scene, it was an adventurous love story!” said auctioneer Mike Sadler during the sale in Dallas. “Now, it becomes the tragic love story—Romeo and Juliet.”

The bidder’s premium brought the final price to $718,750. The auction house hasn’t revealed the identity of the buyer, saying only that they attended the event in person, per the New York Times’ Remy Tumin.

According to the lot listing, prop designers created the floating wood panel based on a piece of debris salvaged from the wreckage in 1912. It wasn’t technically a door, though it’s often described that way; it was actually part of a door frame from the entrance to the first-class lounge.

“This intricately carved prop bears a striking resemblance to the Louis XV-style panel housed in the Maritime Museum in Halifax, Nova Scotia,” per the listing. “Cameron regularly visited the museum when doing research for the Oscar-winning film, which inspired him to create a similar piece of debris.”

Get the latest stories in your inbox every weekday.