Original E.T. Animatronic Auctions for $2.56 Million

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The advanced filming robot was sold by Julien’s Auctions.

In Stephen Spielberg’s classic film, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, the titular alien creature was played onscreen by an advanced animatronic robot. The animatronic was created by Oscar-winning special effects master Carlo Rambaldi in 1981, and was designed to create a variety of movements and expressions to bring the character to life.

This monumental piece of filmmaking history went up for auction over the weekend at the “Icons and Idols: Hollywood” sale, presented by Julien’s Auctions in conjunction with Turner Classic Movies.

“Considered an engineering masterpiece, this one-of-a-kind animatronic figure, featuring 85 points of articulation, pre-dates the advent of CGI (Computer Graphic Imagery) effects in filmmaking, and was designed, developed and engineered in 1981,” the lot description reads. It adds that, during the production of E.T., Spielberg personally described the animatronic as “the eighth wonder of the movie world.”

After a lengthy bidding war, the animatronic was ultimately purchased with an as-of-writing anonymous buyer for a whopping $2.56 million. This was the biggest sale of the entire event by a wide margin, with several other lots like the staff used by Charlton Heston in The Ten Commandments and a black wool dress owned by Marilyn Monroe only selling for $448,000 and $256,000, respectively.

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