Russell Crowe's Divorce Auction Rakes in $2.8 Million, Sees Frenzied Bidding for 'Gladiator' Items
The actor's 'Cinderella Man' groin protector sold for AU$7,000 ($5,400), while a 'Gladiator' chestplate fetched AU$125,000 ($96,000).
Russell Crowe's eclectic "The Art of Divorce" auction took place Friday in Sydney, Australia, freeing the actor of a bevy of personal artifacts and netting him a cool $3.7 million in Australian dollars (roughly $2.8 million).
Open to the public and attended by Crowe, the Saturday evening event held at Carriageworks arts center featured 226 lots of the Oscar winner's belongings, including movie memorabilia, diamond jewelry, artwork, sports collectibles and a dinosaur skull he purchased from Leonardo DiCaprio after having "way too much vodka."
Crowe live-streamed the auction on Facebook, and bids were taken by Sothebys Australia in person, online and by phone from around the world. The items had an 85 percent clearance rate, and all winning bids were topped with a 22 percent commission fee.
The Australian-raised actor organized the unconventional fete as a means to celebrate his near-finalized divorce to Danielle Spencer and, as he wrote in a note in the auction catalog, rid himself of "about 3 rooms full of things I will no longer have to care for, document, clean, tune and insure."
Among the purged: the much-marveled-at suede and elastic groin protector worn by Crowe in 2005's Cinderella Man, which sold for AU$7,000 ($5,400) via telephone bid, far exceeding its AU$500-$600 estimation.
Some of the most frenzied bidding took place over an assortment of Gladiator memorabilia.
The polyurethane and leather "stunt cuirass" breastplate worn by Crowe in the 2000 film's scene depicting the death of his character, Maximus, sold for AU$125,000 ($96,000); a replica Roman chariot fetched AU$65,000 ($50,000); and a pair of black leather wrist cuffs went for AU$32,000 ($24,500).
A wooden training sword from the film went for AU$20,000 ($15,350) and an aluminum prop sword garnered AU$70,000 ($54,000), while two life-size replicas of dead horses took a more modest AU$5,500 ($4,200) each.
Conveniently falling on the same day as Crowe's 54th birthday and would-be 15th wedding anniversary, the bidding paused to bring out local singer Alisa Nasteski to serenade the star with "Happy Birthday."
The previously unseen Crowe then surfaced from backstage, briefly taking the microphone to greet the audience and introduce the sale of the violin he played in 2003's Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, an item he called "very dear to my heart."
And then Russell came out to say hi. pic.twitter.com/tnC8DgjOYD— Ashley Spencer (@AshleyySpencer) April 7, 2018
"G'day folks…Are you having a little bit of fun?" began Crowe, before offering a suggestion to the future owner of the violin. "If someone were to purchase it, as is the tradition, they might want to lend it to a young musician so it carries on and starts to play in concert halls around the world."
The father-of-two stepped aside as a young violinist played songs from the film on the iconic instrument before bidding commenced and the violin sold for AU$135,000 ($104,000).
And then we were treated to songs from MASTER AND COMMANDER played on Jack Aubrey’s violin (which subsequently sold for $135,000). pic.twitter.com/dhnwcAhKvr— Ashley Spencer (@AshleyySpencer) April 7, 2018
Crowe's Master and Commander "dress blues" costume later fetched AU$115,000 ($88,000).
Other impressive lots? A painting called The Suitor by Australian modern artist Charles Blackman went for AU$360,000 ($276,000), and the Mosasaur dinosaur skull that Crowe purchased from DiCaprio sold for AU$65,000 ($50,000) via telephone bid.
A pair of 18th century dueling pistols fetched AU$26,000 ($20,000), and a 2001 Mercedes S-Class that served as a wedding car in Crowe's April 2003 nuptials to Spencer — and has more than 62,000 miles — sold for AU$28,000 ($21,000).
Clothing worn by Crowe to play Javert in 2012's Les Miserables fared well, with a sleeveless vest selling for AU$12,000 ($9,200) and a wool suit for AU$16,000 ($12,000).
And an unanticipated bidding war broke out over the brown leather hood worn by Crowe in 2010's Robin Hood. While only expected to fetch AU$500-$700 ($380-$530), a telephone bidder paid AU$11,000 ($8,400) for the piece.
Still, several items failed to meet their reserve and remained unsold, including a spoken-word Grammy Award won by Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and others in 1986 (est. AU$200,000-$300,000) and a rare Martin guitar from 1870 (est. AU$50,000-$100,000).
Various jewelry gifted to Spencer also underwhelmed, namely a ring featuring a 5.13-carat radiant-cut fancy yellow diamond surrounded by marquise-cut white diamonds expected to fetch between AU$70,000-$100,000 and ultimately failing to meet its reserve.