There was a time when Hollywood's biggest directors spent their money on private jets, holiday homes in the Hamptons and fast times.

These days, they spend it on movie memorabilia. As Guillermo del Toro showcases his private collection at LACMA, we ask: who is the director with the best movie swag?

Guillermo del Toro

Pan's Labyrinth Actor Sergi Lopez shares a laugh with director Guillermo del Toro. Photo / Supplied
Pan's Labyrinth Actor Sergi Lopez shares a laugh with director Guillermo del Toro. Photo / Supplied

The director of the Hellboy movies, Pan's Labyrinth and most recently Crimson Peak, del Toro was inspired to start his collection by Forrest J Ackerman, the editor of cult movie magazine Famous Monsters In Filmland.

Ackerman filled his 18-room house in Los Feliz with the treasures of horror and sci-fi movies (Bela Lugosi's cape from Dracula; a pteranodon from King Kong). Dubbed the Ackermansion, he then made it an open house for young enthusiasts like Peter Jackson and del Toro.

Advertisement

Del Toro's version of the Ackermansion is Bleak House, a mock Tudor mansion in Westlake, Los Angeles.

You can see its geek credentials for miles off - the weather vane is a dragon. The inside is a veritable museum of horror history, covering all media from film, literature (a library boasts a Vampire Fiction and Vampire Fact section) and art.

Iconic writers like Edgar Allen Poe and HP Lovecraft, and visionary special effects geniuses such as Ray Harryhausen, Dick Smith and Jack Pierce, are immortalised in life size statues.

"It's as hard to explain as a sexual proclivity," del Toro has said about his passion for the dark side. "Some guys like high-heeled shoes. I like horror."

This is one bit of memorabilia you wouldn't want to run into in the dark. Photo / Supplied
This is one bit of memorabilia you wouldn't want to run into in the dark. Photo / Supplied
From his own work:

you are greeted at the front door by a life size cast of Sammael, a demon from his film

Hellboy II: The Golden Army

. A severed leg from Cronos props up by a fireplace. Iconic creatures from

Pan's Labyrinth

, the cloven-hoofed Faun and Pale Man, are reproduced in full size glory.

Steven Spielberg

Filmmaker Steven Spielberg has kept many items from his own projects. Photo / AP
Filmmaker Steven Spielberg has kept many items from his own projects. Photo / AP

Spielberg owns original scripts from Casablanca, Orson Welles' radio broadcast for The War Of The Worlds (Spielberg made his own version in 2005) and Citizen Kane.

A huge fan of Orson Welles, on the week E.T, opened, Spielberg also bought one of the original balsa wood sleds from Kane for US $60,500 from an auction at Sotheby's. For him, it was "a symbolic medallion of quality in movies. When you look at [the sled], you don't think of fast dollars, fast sequels and remakes. This to me says that my generation better be good."

The director is also in the business of purchasing Oscars - he once paid US $607,500 for Clark Gable's award for It Happened One Night and recently bought Bette Davis' Best Actress for Jezebel - but always presents the statuettes back to the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Along with Leonardo di Caprio, he also acquired one of the four surviving pairs of ruby slippers from The Wizard Of Oz and donated them to the Academy.

Steven Spielberg's kept memorabilia from Jaws - who wouldn't? Photo / Supplied
Steven Spielberg's kept memorabilia from Jaws - who wouldn't? Photo / Supplied

Spielberg's house in the Pacific Palisades also has cinematic connections. Previous owners included Hollywood legends Douglas Fairbanks Jr, David O. Selznick and Cary Grant.

"The history of the house attracted me instinctively," Spielberg told Architectural Digest. "It was important for me to know that David Selznick lived there during the time he produced Gone With The Wind."


From his own work: Spielberg has kept the mould of Ben Gardner's head that pops out of the hull of the boat in Jaws and retains the miniature spacecraft that lands in forest in E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial. He has also admitted to having the much maligned gopher from the opening of Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull.

Robert Rodriguez

Once Upon A Time in Mexico director Robert Rodriguez (centre). Photo / Supplied
Once Upon A Time in Mexico director Robert Rodriguez (centre). Photo / Supplied

The mastermind behind the Sin City and Spy Kids movies, Rodriguez is an art lover. His stash is dominated by the work of Frank Frazetta, the legendary artist behind Conan the Barbarian, Tarzan, and John Carter of Mars. Frazetta even created an ultra-rare poster for Rodriguez's film From Dusk Till Dawn. The director has one of only five in existence.

Frank Frazetta's From Dusk Till Dawn poster, created for the film but never used in its promotional campaign
Frank Frazetta's From Dusk Till Dawn poster, created for the film but never used in its promotional campaign

Rodriguez also owns original artwork by movie poster artist extraordinaire Drew Struzan, including his iconic painting from John Carpenter's The Thing.

From his own work: Rodriguez keeps the gun packing Guitar cases from Desperado underneath an ornate table in his production office. Elsewhere, he owns a life size Mickey Rourke's Marv, packing a pistol, from Sin City, the candy coloured suits from Spy Kids and a gallery of character self-portrait paintings from cast members Bruce Willis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Lady Gaga, Rosario Dawson, and Josh Brolin, painted with Rodriguez and artist George Yepes during the making of Sin City: A Dame to Kill For.

Tim Burton

What Tim Burton's kept from his own works is something of a mystery. Photo / Leah Gallo
What Tim Burton's kept from his own works is something of a mystery. Photo / Leah Gallo

"He's got slime balls and dead Oompa-Loompas lying around, and skeletons and weird alien lights," Helena Bonham Carter once said about Tim Burton's house. Frankly, for the director of Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands and Sleepy Hollow, you wouldn't have it any other way.

Burton's abode is a smaller scale version of del Toro's house of horror, filled with posters for the likes of The Masque Of The Red Death and The Horrible Dr. Hitchcock.

Winona Ryder and Johnny Depp in Edward Scissorhands. Photo / Supplied
Winona Ryder and Johnny Depp in Edward Scissorhands. Photo / Supplied

Drinking glasses bear the poster of The Curse Of Frankenstein. Japanese Ultraman toys rub shoulders with Harryhausen-esque skeletal figures. Portraits of horror icons Boris Karloff and Christopher Lee (who made five films with Burton) adorn the walls, as does an image of Dallas icon Larry Hagman. ("Don't ask. I have weird references," Burton says in reference to the latter.)

Little is known about which of his own creations he keeps safe, but expect a Jack Skellington or two to be dotted around somewhere.

Peter Jackson

Sir Peter Jackson is the biggest collector of them all. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Sir Peter Jackson is the biggest collector of them all. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Yet perhaps the greatest collection of movie memorabilia belongs to Lord Of The Rings director Jackson. Like del Toro, he was inspired by Forry Ackerman. But unlike del Toro his collection ranges across the entire breadth of cinematic history.

Charlie Chaplin's moustache shares space with the Star Wars chess creatures. An actual T-Rex from Jurassic Park is catalogued alongside Mary Poppins' outfit and the Von Trapp costumes from The Sound Of Music.

He has Robocop, the Queen from Alien, Hal the computer's red eye from 2001: A Space Odyssey (he encourages guests to shine their iPhones to get the full effect) and original costumes and prosthetics from Planet Of The Apes, a project he planned to remake at one point.

He paid £495,415 at auction for the actual Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. On the walls of Weta Workshop, his visual effects company, face moulds of Hollywood icons like Clark Gable and Vincent Price are mounted to the wall. He even has pieces belonging to Tim Burton (Corpse Bride and Mars Attacks! figures).


It's not just movies. Jackson also has a predilection for British-made TV. He has a bona fide Dalek and original Thunderbird puppets. He even has the Slough roadside sign from the opening credits of The Office.

From his own work: Jackson has perfectly preserved just about everything from his own movies, from his early days (the puppets from cult classic Meet The Feebles), to his biggest hits (gold coins from Smaug's haul in The Hobbit) and his unrealised projects (full sized Lancaster bombers from his unmade Dam Busters remake).

In December 2015, Jackson was granted approval from Wellington City Council for a $90 million project to house his collection in a museum. It might be as close to nirvana as a film fan can get.