Russell Crowe drops in at eclectic auction

By AAP Newswire

Oscar-winning actor Russell Crowe has made an appearance at an eclectic auction in Sydney where costumes and props from his movies are fetching extraordinary amounts.

Crowe, who turned 54 on Saturday, is parting with artwork, sports memorabilia and jewellery following his divorce from Danielle Spencer.

The actor arrived at the event, held in the inner-Sydney Carriageworks building, about 7pm after a rendition of Happy Birthday.

"It's been a lot of fun putting it together for you," he told the crowd.

Crowe watched the sale of an item he described as "very dear to my heart" - a violin by Leandro Bisiach Sr he used as the character Captain Jack Aubrey in the 2003 film Master and Commander.

The instrument is dated 1890.

"In the tradition of classical instruments ... if somebody were to purchase it they might want to lend it to a young musician so it carries on and starts to play in the concert halls around the world," Crowe said.

Australian Youth Orchestra musician Bridget O'Donnell performed pieces from Master and Commander for guests and Crowe suggested she may be the lucky young artist to be given the instrument.

The violin was sold for $135,000 which, with a 22 per cent commission, means the new owner will need to part with $164,700.

Some of the most remarkable bids were placed for costume and prop items from the 2000 film Gladiator, including a stunt cuirass worn by Crowe when his character Maximus died.

An online bidder bought the armour for $125,000 after it was expected to fetch between $20,000 and $30,000.

A replica Roman chariot was sold for $65,000, while two life-sized prop horses used in the film were also up for grabs.

"Look at that, something for everyone," auctioneer Martin Gallon quipped.

The horses brought $5500 each, while a pair of black leather wrist cuffs was snatched for $32,000.

One bidder won a wooden training sword with a bid of $20,000 and an aluminium prop sword and spare blade went for $70,000.

The event attracted a colourful mix of clients that were as varied as the items up for grabs - some wearing ball gowns, others sporting beanies.

The actor will also part with numerous artworks, sporting memorabilia, musical instruments, 28 watches and 19 varieties of diamond jewellery.

A leather jockstrap worn by Crowe in the 2005 movie Cinderella Man was won by a telephone bidder for $7000.

There are almost 230 items being sold.