All work and no play may make Jack a dull boy, but it pays off at auction. The axe used by Jack Nicholson in Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 classic The Shining just sold at auction for an amazing price, after a bidding war that saw a dozen movie memorabilia collectors all vying for the iconic movie prop. According to the GottaHaveRockandRoll auction house, the axe from one of the film’s signature scenes sold for an astounding $175,000 in their April 30 auction.
The screen-used axe came displayed in a shadow box frame with photos from the film, and is in very good condition. It came with a letter of authenticity from NORANK Engineering, an engineering firm in the entertainment industry, dated June 8, 1989 and stating that it was used by Jack Nicholson, who played Jack Torrance in the film. According to MovieWeb, the axe was used in the iconic “Here’s Johnny” scene, as well as the scene where Jack kills Dick Hallorann (played by Scatman Crothers in the film).
The axe is made out of foam and resin, so it was likely the axe Jack Nicholson carried around in those scenes without striking anything, for safety reasons. Dylan Kosinski, a representative for the GottaHaveRockandRoll auction house in New Jersey, told TMZ the winning bidder was a “successful businessman” who is a fan of the film and beat out a dozen other bidders. He was not identified by name, a common practice for auctions involving high-dollar items. The final bid was $140,000, with a $35,000 buyer’s premium added. It far surpassed the estimate of $60,000 to $90,000 the auction house expected to get.
The movie, adapted from the classic Stephen King novel, told the story of the Torrance family, who become caretakers of an isolated hotel in the Colorado Rockies during the off-season. The isolation, as well as evil spirits that haunt the hotel, begin to take a toll on the father Jack (Jack Nicholson), who finally snaps and tries to kill his wife Wendy (Shelley Duval) and son Danny (Danny Lloyd). In 2019, a sequel, titled Doctor Sleep, was released, telling the story of a grown Danny (Ewan McGregor).
Jack Nicholson has had such a long, distinguished career, that it could easily be said that there are half a dozen iconic movie props tied to him. He began his career in the late 1950s with bit parts on television and in small-budget films. His role as Wilbur Force in the 1960 black-and-white version of Little Shop of Horrors was his first to gain any attention, and he went on to star in classics like Easy Rider, Chinatown, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Terms of Endearment, A Few Good Men, and The Departed. He’s been nominated for an astounding twelve Academy Awards for acting in his career, and won three, most recently as Best Actor for As Good As It Gets in 1998.
While The Shining axe may be one of the priciest Jack Nicholson movie props to ever sell at auction, another iconic piece of his may be about to set a record. Heritage Auctions in Dallas is about to auction off Jack Nicholson’s Joker costume from 1989’s Batman. The screen-used bright purple suit with orange pinstripes comes complete with shirt, vest, hat, and boots. The hat is even stained with Nicholson’s white pancake makeup. It is scheduled to go up for auction in late May to early June.