John Wayne's cowboy hat up for sale

Expected to reach over $30,000


The Sons of Katie Elder

The iconic cowboy hat worn by John Wayne in six of his films is going up for auction in Los Angeles next week.

Expected to fetch at least $30,000, the felt hat is marked with Wayne's name, probably for identification by the wardrobe department. He gave it to his stunt double Chuck Roberson after thirty years of working together, but when Roberson died in 1988 it was sold to the current owner.

"Wayne wore the hat in the 1961 film 'The Comancheros', the 1963 film 'McClintock!', the 1965 film 'The Sons of Katie Elder', the 1966 film 'El Dorado', and the 1969 film 'The Undefeated'," say auctioneers Nate D Sanders. The hat's overall condition, they say, is "very good".

Hats are popular amongst memorabilia-hunters as they make good display objects. Indeed, at the same auction, a top hat belonging to King George VI is also to go under the hammer with a starting price of $20,000 - movie stars outrank royalty, it seems.

In fact, a recent scientific study of the value of celebrity memorabilia found that the more likeable the owner, and the more time they spent touching it, the greater the object is worth.

The reason, the University of Michigan researchers say, is 'contagion' - a form of magical thinking in which people believe that a celebrity's inner qualities or essence can be transferred to an object through physical contact.

So what other celebrity items have reached high prices in recent years? Here are five of our favourites.

George Harrison's and Ringo Starr's jackets
In February, the jackets worn by the two Beatles during the making of Help! went up for sale with a guide price of £50,000. The jackets feature on the soundtrack album cover and were described by the auctioneer as "amongst the Holy Grail for any Beatles collector".

Margaret Thatcher's suits
Implying, plausibly, that the former prime minister is less popular than the Beatles, seven suits belonging to Margaret Thatcher were sold at auction in 2012: most fetched under £7,000, although the most expensive raised £25,000.

Princess Diana's dress
Well, if anyone is going to be associated with magical thinking, surely it's a princess. And when a "fairy-tale" dress owned by Princess Diana went up for auction late last year, it's no surprise that it fetched £102,000 - well over the estimate.

Victoria Beckham's wedding tiara
Around the same time, another "fairy-tale" item was put on the block: the tiara worn by Victoria Beckham at her marriage to David. Made from 18-carat yellow gold, it's set with large brilliant-cut diamonds and suspended diamond drops. However, it wasn't as popular as expected, and was withdrawn from sale after failing to make its reserve price: the highest bid was £14,000.

Kanye West's trainers
What is surely the craziest price for a piece of celebrity clothing was bid for a pair of Nike 'Red October' trainers designed by rapper Kanye West: an eye-watering £10 million.