The Fault In Our Stars bench theft shocks fans of John Green's bestselling novel

Gillian Orr looks at the lucrative black market in movie memorabilia
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The Independent Culture

Young folk have been flocking to Amsterdam ever since John Green's bestselling novel The Fault in Our Stars had its young couple taking a memorable trip there. But fans of the movie version who hope to retrace Hazel and Gus's steps around the Dutch capital will be disappointed to learn that the green canalside bench that forms the setting for a particularly revelatory moment in the weepy flick has been stolen.

The authorities only discovered the Young Adult landmark had gone missing after film fans alerted them to it. And it's left them scratching their heads. "It's a bit embarrassing, because we do keep good track of them, but it's gone all right," said spokesman Stephan van der Hoek. And he couldn't resist adding a crack about where the bench might end up. "Keep your eyes on eBay," he joked.

Of course, it could just be an over-zealous fan keen to own a piece of memorabilia from their favourite movie (they're an ardent bunch, those John Green followers). After the film Notting Hill came out, similar pilgrimages were made to the house with the blue door, which made up the exterior of Hugh Grant's W11 residence. No one managed to actually get the door off its hinges, but the owners were fed up enough with the Richard Curtis tourists to paint the door black. It was later auctioned off for charity.

Movie memorabilia is worth big bucks these days and a classic prop will come with a price tag running into hundreds of thousands of pounds. So whether they are destined for front rooms or the black market, devious types will go to great lengths to secure a piece of film history. One of the most famous recent thefts was Dorothy's ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz.

Someone broke into the Judy Garland museum in Minnesota in 2005 and made off with the seriously expensive footwear which was said to be worth an estimated $1m (£583m). The shoes still haven't been found, but at least there are three other pairs in existence (that are no doubt watched a little more closely now).

It was a case of life imitating art when a replica of the Maltese Falcon statue was pinched from San Francisco restaurant John's Grill. It had been gifted by one of the stars of The Maltese Falcon, Elisha Cook Jr, because the book's author and main character liked to eat there. Despite a $25,000 (£14,500) reward being offered, it never turned up.

Meanwhile Scaramanga from The Man With the Golden Gun has been left unarmed since the titular shiny firearm went missing from Hertfordshire's Elstree Studios in 2008.

It would seem that owners of The Lord of the Rings memorabilia appear to be as cursed as the ring itself, with private collections of various swords, jewellery and maps from the film continually being stolen from various homes and storage facilities.

But props don't necessarily have to be from a classic flick for people to clamour over them. Whoever made off with parts of a battering ram used in Russell Crowe's Robin Hood from Duncarron Medieval Village last year obviously didn't agree with the critics who universally panned it. Of course, it's not just enterprising thieves who end up pinching movie memorabilia. When filming for the final Harry Potter film came to a close, the young stars ignored the "no props leaving set" policy and filled their boots with various bits.

And although the two pairs of glasses Daniel Radcliffe stole should be worth a pretty penny on eBay, with the star making an estimated £45m from the series, it's unlikely he'll ever need to put them on there.