One of the biggest props in Indiana Jones history has found its way to Antiques Roadshow. Dr. Jones battles Nazis to obtain The Ark of the Covenant in Raiders of the Lost Ark. The real prop from the movie is on display at Skywalker Ranch, but one of the first, if not the first, prototypes can be seen in a new video and it could fetch a face-melting price at an auction. While it’s not the real Ark from the movie, it’s still a major piece of Indiana Jones history.
An unidentified man brought his Ark of the Covenant prototype to Antiques Roadshow TV series. As it turns out, his father worked for Industrial Light and Magic in the 1980s, which is where this specific Ark comes from. The prototype spent years in the family home and was used to store blankets instead of the Ten Commandments. Appraiser/host James Supp is clearly very excited to see the prototype in person and starts to give out some history surrounding it.
The late, great ILM illustrator and concept artist Ralph McQuarrie designed the Ark of the Covenant for the Indiana Jones franchise. “This is the closest anybody in the private market can get to owning the Ark of the Covenant from Raiders of the Lost Ark,” says Antiques Roadshow host James Supp. He later went on to inform us that it is actually made from old picture frames, trophies, and hot glue designs. It’s clearly not as cool as the actual prop used in the movie, but it is a part of cinematic history and shows how the designs changed over time.
As for what the Ark of the Covenant could be worth, James Supp uses a conservative estimate and states that it could go anywhere from $80,000 to $120,000. However, he believes that it could get as high as $250,000 in the right auction, and he’s probably right. The RA Headpiece fromRaiders of the Lost Ark has gotten into that range, though it was used on the screen. The unidentified man getting the appraisal seemed to be taken aback by how much it’s worth, though it does not seem like he’s going to be selling it any time soon.
The Ark of the Covenant, also known as Ark of the Testimony, is a wooden box, which is plated in gold. In the Book of Exodus, it contains the two stone tablets of the Ten Commandments. However, Indiana Jones brought the Ark to pop culture back in the early 1980s when Dr. Jones went hunting for it. It is also the cause of the infamous face-melting scene towards the end of the iconic movie. Thankfully, the prototype does not cause any harm, though it could hurt someone’s back if lifted wrong. You can check out a video of the appraisal below, thanks to the Antique Roadshow PBS YouTube channel.