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Controversial wooden door from 'Titanic' sells for more than $700,000

The wooden door panel from the 1997 blockbuster film went for the highest price of any item at the auction last week.
Controversial wooden door from 'Titanic' sells for more than $700,000
Posted at 8:49 PM, Mar 26, 2024

Jack Dawson's famous last words to Rose Dewitt Bukater, said while clinging to the Titanic's infamous wooden "door," were "Never let go."

Hailing from the pair's emotional final scene, the quote from the 1997 blockbuster "Titanic" comes as the female socialite floats on the prop and her lover is left to the icy waters beneath, eventually dying of hypothermia and sinking to the ocean floor.

In recent years, the moment garnered heated discussion, both because Rose did let go and because many believe both characters could have fit on the makeshift flotation device. And even though the film's director James Cameron has tried to squash the debate, one fan appears to truly have heeded Jack's request, never letting go of the piece of wood until it was in their possession — for a small fee of $718,750.

That's how much the fan paid for the balsa wood prop piece at Heritage Auctions' Treasures from Planet Hollywood event, which ran Wednesday through Sunday.

It was the most expensive piece sold during the auction, beating out other iconic props like the whip from "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" — nabbed for $525,000 — and the ax from "The Shining." But four other pieces of "Titanic" memorabilia did join the wood panel in the highest-sellers list, including the ship's helm wheel — sold for $200,000 — and the dress Kate Winslet/Rose wore during that notable last scene, leaving for a price of $125,000.

Now it's up to the new owner of the door frame — which Heritage Auctions clarifies is often mistakenly referred to as part of a full door — to decide whether they'll carry out their own tests to settle the debate over Jack's death or to believe what Cameron says: that his decision to frame the final scene (no pun intended) the way he did was the right call.

The Oscar-winning director made this final argument around the film's anniversary last year, when he conducted his own study on the wood panel after years of being asked about it. The study consisted of test subjects who were the same size as Winslet and DiCaprio being put in the final scene's scenario. 

In the end, Cameron concluded that only one could have survived, but technically, he admitted he should have made the prop panel smaller to eliminate doubters, even as other variables would have come into play in a real-life scenario.

"[Jack] needed to die. It's like Romeo and Juliet. It's a movie about love and sacrifice and mortality. The love is measured by the sacrifice," he said about the storyline.

"Jack might've lived, but there's a lot of variables: How much swell is there, how long does it take the lifeboat to get there," he also said about the survivability. "In an experiment in a test pool, we can't possibly simulate the terror, the adrenaline, all the things that worked against them. He couldn't have anticipated what we know today about hypothermia. He didn't get to run a bunch of different experiments to see what worked the best … I think his thought process was, 'I'm not going to do one thing that jeopardizes her.'"

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