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Starry stuff

Celebrity memorabilia is making collectors go crazy.

entertainment Updated: Aug 22, 2010 02:09 IST

Marilyn Monroe’s chest X-rays. Barbra Streisand’s houndstooth cap from the film What’s Up, Doc? Elvis Presley’s empty prescription bottles. Alfred Hitchcock’s driver’s license. Who wants all this stuff? And why would they pay thousands of dollars for it?

Hollywood memorabilia auctions have become big business around the globe, with a seemingly endless supply of celebrity relics - and celebrity collectors who will pay big bucks for them. In what’s become almost a routine affair, hundreds more items will be up for sale soon, when props and costumes from TV’s Lost hit the auction block.

“This market is fun because it’s probably the most accessible market that’s sold at auction today,” said appraiser Laura Woolley.

“You don’t need to have a huge history of connoisseurship to get the visceral reaction to the ruby slippers, and you don’t need to be told why they’re important.”

For collector David Davis, it all started with Streisand’s houndstooth cap. “There’s something about having it in your house, in your possession,” said Davis, who’s spent $300,000 on his collection. “You feel a connection to the celebrity.”

Other collectors see themselves as custodians of history. Scott Fortner has been collecting Marilyn Monroe books and photos since he was a kid. “I feel more like a curator, a holder of Marilyn’s goods, rather than buying them to be close to her,” he said.