Downtime

The Items for Sale in Russell Crowe’s “Divorce Auction” Are a Strange and Mesmerizing Portrait of Russell Crowe

Photo illustration: a cutout photo of Russell Crowe amongst photos of the items for sale in his divorce auction.
Photo illustration by Slate. Images from Sotherby’s Australia.

Academy Award–winning actor Russell Crowe separated from his wife, Danielle Spencer, in 2012, and their divorce is set to be finalized this spring. In … celebration? the actor is cheerfully auctioning off a trove of possessions that he calls “three rooms full of things I’ll no longer have to care for, document, clean, tune, and insure.” The Sotheby’s Australia auction is set for April 7, “a date of particular significance as both the actor’s birthday and wedding anniversary.”

Both the split and the sale seem, by all appearances, to be perfectly amicable. “Just as we collaborate on the upbringing of our kids, it’s easy for us to work together on something like this” the actor told an Australian newspaper. “I think she feels the same way I do in regards to just moving on things that help create space for the future.” The sale is titled “The Art of Divorce” and the cover of the auction catalog featured a tuxedo-clad Crowe raising a cocktail at the reader, as if he’s personally inviting you into what amounts to a very fancy garage sale. Luckily for the public, the catalog is available for viewing in full online.

Much of the collection serves as confirmation of exactly what you’d imagine the inside of Russell Crowe’s storage locker to look like: piles of guitars (he was in a band), a tremendous amount of cricket memorabilia, and a mounted Cretaceous period reptile skull that Crowe bought from “Mr. Leonardo DiCaprio, Los Angeles.” The trove also includes the usual post-divorce deacquisitions like jewelry, watches, and art.

Naturally, the items making headlines this week are the movie memorabilia and costumes, including Gladiator ephemera like armor, multiple life-size prop horses, and a “fully functioning replica Roman chariot.” Other costume items include chainmail (Robin Hood, 2010), Doc Martins (Romper Stomper, 1992), ice skates (Mystery, Alaska, 1999), and a leather jockstrap (Cinderella Man, 2005) that collectively serve as a reminder that being a movie star means being paid to play dress-up. There’s also a tabletop model of Capt. Jack Aubrey’s ship from Master and Commander, a gorgeous 2003 movie about male friendship and honor. The boat could be yours for $800.

The most expensive item listed is a 19th-century violin played by Crowe in Master and Commander, which could go for up to $140,000. The cheapest include a Pittsburgh Steelers scarf he wore in the forgettable journalism drama State of Play. Then there’s the more mysterious stuff: a Muhammad Ali plaster relief life cast, a nautical rum cask, and a huge “maritime-themed” iron-backed bench designed by Crowe himself for his apartment at “Woolloomooloo,” in case you forgot he was Australian.

For casual browsers, the catalog is best experienced not as a referendum on the “Art of Divorce” but as a quirky guide to one man’s passing hobbies and experiences over the last three decades, should one be susceptible to such rabbit holes. One moment you’re learning that Crowe has been collecting work by the Australian painter Charles Blackman, and next thing you know you’re on the website of Australia’s leading breeder of Catahoula Leopard Dogs reading about the time Crowe visited the breeder’s sugar cane farm to film a music video for a song he had written inspired by a painting.