How Jay Leno and Other Stars Make Money From Motorcycles, Vases and Other Oddities

Motorcycle Money Oddities - H 2014
Mary Evans Picture Library/Courtesy of Everett Collection

Motorcycle Money Oddities - H 2014

"There are a lot of ways to make money besides the stock market," Leno says

This story first appeared in the Oct. 10 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

Back in the 1990s, Jay Leno splurged on another motorcycle to add to his collection -- six more of them, in fact. He paid more than $30,000 apiece for a sextet of 1929 Brough bikes, the very model that Lawrence of Arabia died on. This year, a Brough sold for a record $379,202. "That's a pretty good return," says Leno. "There are a lot of ways to make money besides the stock market."

Read more Hollywood Salaries Revealed, From Movie Stars to Agents (and Even Their Assistants)

Steve Martin invests in art, including Edward Hopper's Night Window for $10 million (he later sold it for nearly $27 million). Martin Scorsese is said to own an original Bell & Howell 2709 camera that once rolled on MGM sets in the 1930s (worth $40,000 in 1999, it's currently valued at close to $200,000). And Leno, of course, collects objets d'wheels. "If a little painting called The Scream goes for $120 million, I don't see why it's odd that a kinetic piece of art that rolls is also worth a lot of money," he says. "A guy gave me a Lamborghini Miura in the '80s because it cost more to fix than it was worth. Now it's worth just about a million."

See more Hollywood's 100 Favorite Films

Of course, as with the stock market, sinking cash into cars and other unconventional investments can be risky. Debbie Reynolds lost her shirt buying, among other showbiz items, the Rat Pack's old tuxedo pants (her Hollywood memorabilia museum literally bankrupted her). Jean Smart was wise to collect Roseville pottery before others did, but foolishly sold the whole kit and caboodle too soon because she "lives in earthquake country," says her publicist. One Roseville vase recently sold for $38,000.