The Prop Panel That Saved Rose in 'Titanic' Just Sold for $718,750

No, it's not a door.

Jack and Rose on the panel in 'Titanic.'
Jack and Rose on the panel in 'Titanic.' / 20th Century Fox

When is a giant hunk of balsa wood worth hundreds of thousands of dollars? When it’s the door from the climax of the 1997 blockbuster Titanic and the focal point of one of cinema’s most enduring controversies.

The panel, which Rose (Kate Winslet) and Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) use as an improvised life raft after the ship sinks, recently sold for $718,750 at Heritage Auctions. It netted considerably more than Winslet’s dress worn during the scene, which sold for $125,000.

According to Heritage, the deliberately distressed 8-foot by 3 feet, 5 inch ornate panel—and no, it’s not a door—was modeled after a salvaged portion of the ship, possibly in a location where it began to split into two.

Titanic director James Cameron has often been prompted to address the panel’s role in the conclusion of the film. (Spoilers follow.) As Rose and Jack cling to the wreckage, Jack insists the panel won’t be able to support both of them and allows himself to be carried away in the water. This has never sat well with fans of the film, who believe the panel could have accommodated both of them.

Could Jack and Rose have fit on the door?

The popular series Mythbusters offered that Jack and Rose could have survived had they put their life preservers under the panel, which led Cameron in 2017 to offer a rebuttal.

“OK, so let’s really play that out,” Cameron said. “You’re Jack, you’re in water that’s 28 degrees, your brain is starting to get hypothermia. Mythbusters asks you to now go take off your life vest, take hers off, swim underneath this thing, attach it in some way that it won’t just wash out two minutes later—which means you’re underwater tying this thing on in 28-degree water, and that’s going to take you five to 10 minutes, so by the time you come back up you’re already dead. So that wouldn’t work. His best choice was to keep his upper body out of the water and hope to get pulled out by a boat or something before he died.”

In 2023, Cameron went so far as to conduct a series of experiments to test out the various theories. His conclusion: Jack could probably have stayed alive long enough to be rescued if he kept his upper body out of the water. But he maintained that while Jack’s demise may not have been wholly necessary from a scientific standpoint, it was a sacrifice the story needed.

“Jack’s survival might have come at the price of her life, [and] there’s a code of chivalry that men had in those days,” Cameron told Entertainment Weekly. “Add to it his individual character—he’s in love with her, a grand epic love which is self-sacrificial—I think his thought process was, ‘I’m not going to do one thing that jeopardizes her’... and that’s 100 percent in character.”

The Titanic items were among more than 1500 props that were offered in Heritage’s Treasures of Planet Hollywood auction, a collection of memorabilia that was curated for the Planet Hollywood line of themed restaurants. Other big-ticket items included the whip from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom ($525,000), the axe from The Shining ($125,000), and a Good Guy Chucky doll from Child’s Play ($106,250).

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[h/t The Guardian]