This week, the hotly anticipated Barbie movie hits theaters, promising a pink-splashed fantasy adventure centered on the beloved titular doll, played by Margot Robbie. It’s the first live-action Barbie feature, following several animated shows, pointing to the Mattel product’s enduring appeal and popularity, which has spanned decades.
Since emerging on shelves in 1959 as an invention of Ruth Handler, the doll and its many iterations haven’t just lodged itself in toy chests and popular consciousness, but also in a thriving collectibles market, where it continues to hold value.
According to a recent study collating data from BarbieDB, a vintage, mint-condition Barbie could fetch more than $25,000 today. Meanwhile, commemorative or limited-edition runs, such as the Lorraine Schwartz or Karl Lagerfeld dolls, can command thousands on the resale market, per Invaluable. They’re eye-watering sums that elevate Barbie from a mere plaything to a highly coveted artifact, reflecting as it does ever-shifting aesthetics and social mores.
Below, we’ve rounded up seven of the most expensive Barbies ever sold.
7. Marie Antoinette Barbie (2003)
Sold for: $1,250
Produced as part of Mattel’s Women of Royalty Series, the Marie Antoinette Barbie was based on Élisabeth Vigée-Lebrun‘s 1783 portrait of the French monarch, and comes dressed in an extravagant blue gown. More eye-catchingly, the doll also wears a diamond necklace, modeled after the same luxurious baubles that sparked the scandalous Affair of the Diamond Necklace in 1784. The doll made history when it fetched $1,250 at an eBay auction around 2016, but current asking prices on the same platform range anywhere between $1,500 to $3,500.
6. #2 Brunette Ponytail Barbie (1959)
Sold for: $6,710
Seven versions of the Barbie doll were produced in 1959, all of which looked largely similar save for minute variations. Barbie #2, while wearing the same black eyeliner and graphic swimsuit as her predecessor, differed in the design of her legs, which were not constructed with copper tubing as Barbie #1’s were.
These vintage Barbies are naturally the most sought-after dolls out there; in collectors’ parlance, the lower the edition number, the bigger the price. In 2013, this historic toy, complete with all her accessories and still in-box, fetched $6,710 on eBay, one of the highest prices ever paid for Barbie #2.
5. Lorraine Schwartz Barbie (2010)
Sold for: $7,500
Yes, $7,500 is a huge sum to pay for a doll, but whoever did scored a bargain (and they did it at an auction that additionally benefited the Children Affected by AIDS Foundation). As part of a collaboration between Mattel and the Council of Fashion Designers of America, the Barbie was styled by the American designer, who gave the doll a chic revamp with a little black dress and diamond-encrusted earrings, belt, bracelets, and a huge letter “B”—all of which totaled $25,000 in real-life dollars. Only 12 of these Barbies were made, which accounts for its value despite its recent vintage.
4. Gala Abend Barbie (1965)
Sold for: $9,148
In 2006, Christie’s hosted a sale of a private collection of some 400 Barbie dolls, of which this rare model realized a price 12 times above its high estimate. Exclusive to the Japanese and European market, the Gala Abend doll is clad in a lush gala gown with intricate detailing, its hands clutching a purse and a tiny dance program. And in the rarest of feats, the doll also had bendable legs—the kind of flexibility not afforded your everyday Barbie doll.
3. Barbie #1 (1959)
Sold for: $27,450
The original Barbie doll retailed for $3 in 1959. Today, it’s been dubbed a collector’s “holy grail,” being tough to find and tougher still to find in good condition. When it is, the doll can attract some stunning prices, as it did at a 2006 auction at Sandi Holder’s Doll Attic in California. The $27,450 paid for an unboxed Barbie #1 set a (since broken) Guinness World record for the highest price paid for a Barbie doll at an auction—and what’s more, enabled its consignors, a retired couple, to put money down for a motor home.
2. De Beers 40th Anniversary Barbie (1999)
Sold for: $85,000
For Barbie’s 40th year, Mattel tasked jewelers De Beers with designing a doll, resulting in one of the priciest toys out there. De Beers dressed the special-edition Barbie in a Princess Leia-esque bikini getup with a dainty belt studded with 160 diamonds. This ultra-rare model never hit retail shelves, but went straight to auction. Unlike Barbie #1, though, it didn’t have to wait five decades to become one of Mattel’s most valuable offerings.
1. Stefano Canturi Barbie (2010)
Sold for: $302,500
The Barbie overseen by the Australian jewelry designer more than earns its price tag: only one Stefano Canturi Barbie was ever manufactured, wearing a custom-made choker crafted with white diamonds and a striking pink diamond. The one-carat colored jewel was a rare discovery from Australia’s Argyle mine and itself worth $300,000—effectively turning the toy into an investment piece. The doll went under the hammer at Christie’s in 2010, with proceeds directly going to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, per Canturi’s wishes.
More Trending Stories: