“Quo Vadis” Artifacts Selling at Auction and Online

Please note:  I have absolutely no connection with any of these auctions or sales.  This is strictly for fun.

This group of items was identified as “Robert Taylor ‘Marcus Vinicius’ tunic and sandals, plus unidentified Roman soldier armor from ‘Quo Vadis'”.  They were sold on December 16, 2011 for $11,000.00 plus a $2,530 buyer’s premium and taxes and fees.


Description: (MGM, 1951).  Robert Taylor plays a dedicated and patriotic Roman general, until Deborah Kerr and her new religion of Christianity enlighten him to the corruption of his Emperor Nero.  Designed by Herschel McCoy, this mixed lot contains two costume elements for Robert Taylor, a wool tunic with red decorative band near lower hem, and a pair of studio hand-crafted high webbed lace-up sandals; and for a Roman soldier, a metal and leather cuirass armor set, with front and back interlocking plates and Nike medallion, and hammered metal helmet with orange brush top. Tunic is Fine, virtually as screen-worn though slightly altered for re-purposing; sandals are somewhat worn, armor has been painted cream over original dull color also for re-purposing, perhaps in “Ben-Hur” or other MGM Biblical epic films. (Source: Icons of Hollywood Auction)

????????Robert Taylor wearing similar sandals with John Lee Mahin, scriptwriter; Barbara Stanwyck and producer Sam Zimbalist.

11537157_411537157_5Robert Taylor in a similar tunic; Deborah Kerr escorted into the arena by soldiers in similar armor.

A separate auction on June 18, 2011 featured “Robert Taylor ‘Marcus Vinicius’ gray leather cross strapped sandals and calf guards from ‘Quo Vadis.'”  These sold for $1,100.00 plus $253 buyer’s premium and taxes and fees.


Description:  Gray leather high-strapping sandals and elaborate heavy calf-guards, embellished with large bat-winged lion heads, positively screen-matched to Robert Taylor’s character of “Vinicius” in “Quo Vadis” but the calf guards are also marked “Heston” and may have been re-used in “Ben-Hur.” All four pieces are also marked “Logan Costume Co.”  (Source: icollector.com)

RT47249297858_3_lRobert Taylor wearing what look like the same sandals and knee guards in a wardrobe photo and a scene from the movie.

“Marcus Vinicius Roman costume from “Quo Vadis”  This item was sold on October 9, 2009 for $4,000.00 plus $720.00 buyers premium and taxes and fees. It was worn by Robert Taylor in the banquet scene in “Quo Vadis.”

qvff????????????The fourth photo shows the wrist gauntlet on Mr. Taylor’s left arm.

Description: Robert Taylor “Marcus Vinicius Roman costume from “Quo Vadis” (MGM, 1951). The costume comprises a cream wool tunic with ornate silver threading and black bead detailing, long under-tunic with visible ornate trim at the bottom, matching wool cape with orange interior and a single ornate gauntlet.  The zipper on the under-tunic is broken and the wrist gauntlet is very fragile.  Tunic and under-tunic with Cassad Arte Firenze costume labels handwritten “Bob Taylor, Marco Vinicio.”  (Source: icollector.com)

Four Door Panels.  Christie’s Auction Gallery in London sold the item below in 2006 for $2,513.00 plus VAT. The estimated value had been $525-$873.


Description:  1951, MGM, four U.S. door panels, all 60″ x 20″. They were sold to the Vintage Film Posters Co.

Peter Ustinov silk robe and mantle from ‘Quo Vadis.'” These were auctioned on June 8, 2011 but I don’t know whether they sold or not.  The starting bid was $3,000.00.


Description:  Peter Ustinov “Nero” taupe silk robe and monumental purple velvet mantle from “Quo Vadis.” (MGM, 1951).  Long robe of a taupe colored silk with elaborate Fleur-de-lis embroidery worn by Peter Ustinov as “Nero” in “Quo Vadis.”  bears two internal labels, a blank MGM, plus Casa d’Arte Firenze Giuseppe Peruzzi, inscribed, “Nerone cost no. 4.”  Includes a monumental purple velvet mantle with elaborate gold bullion embroidery worn by Ustinov in the opening moments of the film.” (Source: liveauctioneeers.com)

Next we have the “‘Quo Vadis’ Monumental Wardrobe Production Bible.”


Description: Comprised of hundreds of pages (3 in. thick inside green-cloth studio binder) detailing the entire process of wardrobe design and construction for “a cast of thousands” in the MGM epic of the advent of Christianity during the Roman Empire.  A treasure trove of fascinating detail, including (but by no means limited to) the revelation that Gregory Peck and Elizabeth Taylor were not only tested for the leads (at a cost recorded here of $15,144.15 for Peck and $3,654.17 for Taylor) but apparently initially cast as well.  Total wardrobe budget is reported in this massive work as 149,769,088 Italian Lire (costs are recorded variously as either U.S. dollars and/or Lire).  Also includes a section of black and white costume designs, some with designer’s ink notations.  An extraordinary reference into the practical reality or producing a film of epic proportions.  Expected to sell for $600-$800.  I don’t know the result. (Source: icollector.com) {For some reason, I would love to have this.}

The items above have (probably) all been sold but there are still “Quo Vadis” artifacts available for purchase, some of them from Debbie Reynolds Studio Store (with which, I emphasize again, I have no connection).

“Pair of drums used in ‘Quo Vadis.'”


Description: (MGM, 1951). Pair of gold metal round drums with copper metal accent and large circular dots around edge with two rings.  Measures 18″ across and just shy of 12″ high.  Both exhibit some dents and scratches One drum has a tear along edge half way around and some water damage.  Used during the opening scene as the soldiers march the Athenian [Appian Way] road to Rome, leading the procession to celebrate Robert Taylor’s return to Rome and at the end where a new leader is marching to Rome to rebuild it in “Quo Vadis.”  Special shipping arrangements apply.  $3,200.00. (Source Debbie Reynolds Studio Store)

“Wooden Chest from ‘Quo Vadis,’ ‘Julius Caesar,’ and ‘Valley of the Kings.'”

Description: (MGM,1951).  Wooden chest with gold painted metal ornaments and Greek key decorations,  Measyres 42 1/1″ wide, 20″ deep and 36″ high.  Used in Nero’s (Peter Ustinov) bedchamber when he receives the news of Petronius’ (Leo Genn) death in “Quo Vadis” and in “Julius Caesar” with Louis Calhern threatening Lana Turner (MGM, 1953) and in the tomb of the Pharaoh with Robert Taylor and Eleanor Parker in “Valley of the Kings” (MGM, 1954). Only $6,000.

abc ????????????Robert Taylor and Eleanor Parker with the box in “Valley of the Kings.”

abc ????????????Leo Genn with the box in “Quo Vadis.”

About giraffe44

I became a Robert Taylor fan at the age of 15 when his TV show, "The Detectives" premiered. My mother wanted to watch it because she remembered Mr. Taylor from the thirties. I took one look and that was it. I spent the rest of my high school career watching Robert Taylor movies on late night TV, buying photos of him, making scrapbooks and being a typical teenager. College, marriage and career intervened. I remember being sad when Mr. Taylor died. I mailed two huge scrapbooks to Ursula Thiess. I hope she got them. Time passed, retirement, moving to Florida. Then in 2012 my husband Fred pointed that there were two Robert Taylor movies that evening on Turner Classic Movies--"Ivanhoe" and "Quentin Durward." I watched both and it happened all over again. I started this blog both for fans and for people who didn't know about Robert Taylor. As the blog passes 200,000 views I'm delighted that so many people have come by and hope it will help preserve the legacy of this fine actor and equally good man.
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