By Todd Spangler
Published Oct. 9, 2013
A “Breaking Bad” buff is paying $9,900 for a pair of Walter White’s used underwear.
All told, fans of the show pledged close to $1 million at ScreenBid.com for 337 props, costumes and vehicles used in “Breaking Bad,” which ended its run on AMC Sept. 29.
Startup ScreenBid struck a deal with Sony Pictures Television, which produced the skein, to auction off items used in the series. The auction went live after the finale, aiming to capitalize on the mania surrounding the Emmy-winning TV show, and bidding for the last lots closed Wednesday.
“We’ve been floored by some of these prices,” ScreenBid co-founder Jeffrey Dash said. The company had previously suggested the auction could bring in more than $2 million, but Dash said it’s thrilled with the results.
The highest winning bid: $65,500 for the inscribed copy of Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass,” crux of a pivotal plot point late in the series. It sold to someone with the user name “bbadfan101.”
Other items drawing five-figure final bids were Hector “Tio” Salamanca’s bell ($26,750); the pink teddy bear that plunged from an exploding airliner ($23,250); the eyeless version of the teddy bear ($20,250); Tuco’s grill ($20,250); and Walter’s Cadillac ($19,750). Walt’s red car remote, which played a crucial role in the finale, went for $8,400.
In addition to the “Breaking Bad” memorabilia, ScreenBid completed the auction of 66 items from Sony’s “This Is the End.”
About 5,800 people registered at ScreenBid for the auctions, and about 2,000 entered the bidding. The site adds a 24% “buyer’s premium” on top of the final bids.
Now, ScreenBid must collect the coin from the winning bidders. To participate in the auctions, users had to enter a valid credit card. But Dash acknowledged that’s not an absolute guarantee they will pay what they bid: “There’s risk in any business.”
Dash formed ScreenBid with Bill Block, CEO of indie film studio QED Intl., as a way for production companies to generate incremental revenue for props that they otherwise would have discarded or given away.
“We’ve found a way to monetize these assets for studios,” said Dash, who also is CFO of ArtMix Creative, an agency based in Culver City, Calif., that reps photographers and directors.
ScreenBid’s deals with studios vary — and Dash declined to specify its arrangement with Sony — but in general the company is seeking 80-20 deals, where the studio keeps 80% of the haul.
Not up for bid was the “Breaking Bad” RV that served as Walt and Jesse Pinkman’s mobile meth lab, which Sony plans to use for studio tours, as well as the hat worn by Heisenberg (the nom-de-meth of Walter White’s crystal-cooking alter ego). The studio handled warehousing for the items in the auction.
For the record, the $9,900 tighty-whities — the pair Bryan Cranston wore in the pilot episode — are currently on display at the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, N.Y., as part of its “Breaking Bad” exhibition. According to ScreenBid, the underpants will ship to the winning bidder after the exhibit ends Oct. 27.
Somewhere, Walter White is chuckling in disbelief.