‘The Shining’ Ax Sold for More Than $200,000 — Here’s Who Bought It and Why

Prolific filmmaker Stanley Kubrick crafted a haunting vision of Stephen King’s novel, The Shining. The horror film ultimately became a classic, thus memorabilia from the set are considered collectible treasures. Here’s who snagged one such prop — the fire ax Jack Nicholson swung — for a hefty price tag exceeding $200,000.

Jack Nicholson In 'The Shining'
Jack Nicholson In ‘The Shining’ | Warner Brothers/Getty Images

The fire ax became a signature symbol of ‘The Shining’

To the delight of movie buffs, Vanity Fair produced a video segment about one of the most iconic props in cinematic history. The entertainment brand touts, “We Found Jack Nicholson’s Axe From The Shining,” in the title of their video. Vanity Fair packs tons of juicy details about The Shining ax into the 13-plus minutes of infotainment posted to their YouTube channel.

In The Shining, Nicholson portrays author Jack Torrance, who takes a job as a caretaker at a vacant hotel. While there, he falls under the influence of malevolent forces and descends into madness. In one of the most haunting sequences, Jack stalks his family with a fire ax.

 The ax disappeared, then resurfaced after 26 years

Fans may be surprised to learn that there were several spare axes on the set of the film, as explained by executive producer Jan Harlan. In fact, Harlan once owned one of the tools until his wife threw it out. Like Harlan’s souvenir from the film, many of the other axes vanished over the decades. But Vanity Fair has tracked down the whereabouts of one particular Shining ax.

According to Vanity Fair, very few owners have boasted possession of The Shining ax since the film’s theatrical run in 1980. According to the outlet, a film crew member bought it for a measly $10 after production wrapped in 1979. The ax, which the man purchased to chop wood, remained in his tool shed until 2005. And it turns out that it is worth a fortune.

Stephen Lane, Founder and CEO of Prop Store of London, purchased the ax from the crew member for several thousand British pounds. Lane held onto the item until 2019 when he decided to sell it.

A connoisseur nabbed the famed ax for his personal collection


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As revealed in the Vanity Fair retrospective, The Shining ax became a hot item at a British auction. The event accepted bids from in-person buyers, online shoppers, and phone bidders. While the tool was expected to sell for between 40,000 and 60,000 British pounds, the winning bid was a whopping 140,000 pounds, which equates to $208,000.

Movie prop collector Matthew Dalton paid the hefty price and still owns the ax. When asked about what motivated him to buy The Shining ax, Dalton gave this surprising answer:

“I began collecting [props] eight years ago because I was bullied in high school. I got anxiety from it, and I actually ended up dropping out of school. I didn’t really have too many friends. So, I began just watching all sorts of movies. It was, like, my biggest escape from reality. And I thought to myself, you know, ‘I want something from these movies. I want some Hollywood history, if you will.’”

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