It had all the makings of a science fiction thriller. Converted government bunker, exotic cars, a couple of robots and… a Bat Boat? Those were just a few of the items seized in the biggest drug bust in the west of England. The value of the items up for auction was estimated as high as £1,000,000 ($1,320,000 USD). Instead, the collection sold for around a third of that for £340,000 ($449,000 USD) according to the Wilsons Auctions website.
The memorabilia collection belonged to Martin Fillery, one of three men convicted for growing marijuana in a converted nuclear fallout bunker. He was also convicted of stealing electricity and money laundering. The money laundering conviction led to the seizure of his collection. The 46-year-old Fillery was clearly a movie fan. He used his ill-gotten gains to amass a collection of watches, jewelry, movie props, replica vehicles and classic arcade games.
International media attention grew in the days leading up to the October 26 auction. Nearly every major UK news outlet had an article about it. Buyers flew into Belfast, Northern Ireland to bid in person, with the total number of bidders exceeding expectations. Many others from around the world bid online according to the auction house. They also reported that 70,000 viewers watched their live videos on Facebook as the auction took place.
He imported what?
The auction catalog (PDF) listed 155 lots. Of course, there are the usual examples of high-end watches and gold jewelry. There were the expected assortment of exotic cars as well. However, most of those were “kit” vehicles where body panels are put on a more mundane chassis.
The exceptions were notable. A red-and-white 1974 Ford Gran Torino, identical to the one used in the 70’s cop show Starsky and Hutch took £7,500. A ’73 Dodge Monaco replica of the Blues Brothers police car and an ’84 Dodge Ram customized to look like the one from Team America both sold. While these might be unusual, but pedestrian, vehicles in the US, they are exceedingly rare in the UK.
Beyond the replicas, one car had actual on-screen credits. Griff Tannen’s 1976 BMW 633SCi from Back to the Future II (“Hey I told you two coats of wax on my car, not just one!”) went under the gavel as well. It was one of the highest-selling items, taking in £20,000. Interestingly enough, another auction lot was a pair of “Lyon Estates” monuments, which Marty drove past in the first movie. The auction catalog bills these as “one of two sets in the world.”
That’s not to say that homegrown transport was ignored. The collection included several vehicles based on popular British television shows. The sale of the bright yellow, three-wheeled Reliant Rialto replicating “Del Boy” Turner’s ride from Only Fools and Horses earned £6,000 for Her Majesty. Some 1980s kid no doubt got the car of his childhood dreams as a pink 1953 Ford Anglia “Ratmobile” from the Roland Rat children’s show sold for £6,000. And, there was even a replica of Postman Pat’s postal van.
It wouldn’t be properly British if there weren’t at least one Mini in the garage. There were two, in fact. An ’85 Mayfair limousine conversion joined an already tiny ’68 Minor that had been shortened to a two-seater.
About that Bat Boat
Coming in just behind the Back to the Future BMW in terms of value was the replica Bat Boat. According to the catalog, this boat is one of only two in Europe. The original first appeared in the 1966 Batman movie and appeared in seasons two and three of the TV show. It appears that the replica’s builders took authenticity seriously. Not only did they replicate the physical appearance, but they also utilized the identical original boat as the basis. The boat and trailer ultimately sold for £15,000.
Boys and their toys
Beyond the bling and cars were the life-size figures. The pairing of Ripley in the Powerloader and the Alien Queen dominated the floor. Standees of Iron Man and a Terminator Endoskeleton drew serious money, selling for £3,100 and £5,750, respectively.
Just in time for Halloween, a costume of the 1978 version of a Cylon Warrior sold. However, he was not the sole shiny silver alien menace. His British counterpart, a rare officially licensed Cyberman “Silver Menace” stood only a few feet away. In between, full figure statues of Mini Me, Gene Wilder’s Willie Wonka, Gremlin and E.T. joined busts of the T1000, Luke Skywalker and Chewbacca.
A fan of the Force
The latter two, portraying the characters on Hoth, drew vigorous bidding. They were also part of larger group of Star Wars themed items. Three Ewok figures and Jabba’s court jester, Salacious Crumb also represented the galaxy far, far away. A very rare – and fully restored – Atari Star Wars cockpit arcade machine joined other classics such as Space Ace, Dragon’s Lair, Tron and BattleZone.
However, the biggest seller of the group was the Stormtrooper armor. This suit differs from most others in that is a Shepperton Design Studios (SDS) original. The studio’s owner, Andrew Ainsworth, was the original designer of the body armor and helmets for 1977’s A New Hope. In 2011 he won a long-running copyright suit filed by Lucasfilm. As a result, these suits are only available in the UK. They are considered by some to be the “gold standard” as they are made from the original molds. This particular suit commanded a premium price. While SDS lists a full suit at £1,679.95, this set of armor went for £2,450. This high price was likely due to the certificate of authenticity which stated that this was suit number 299.
Wilson’s Auctions is conducting another, unrelated week-long auction of SciFi, Anime and movie memorabilia November 2-9.