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This controversial "Titanic" prop has spawned decades of debate — and it just sold for $700,000

"Titanic" movie prop sold at auction for $718,750
"Titanic" movie prop sold at auction for $718,750 00:52

The ending of "Titanic" has spawned debate for decades – could Jack have fit on that floating door with Rose, or was he doomed to die in the icy waters of the Atlantic? Now, the controversial prop has a new home: It sold last week at auction for $718,750.

The 1997 blockbuster directed by James Cameron follows a fictional man and woman who were on the Titanic when it hit an iceberg and sank in 1912. In the end, Rose DeWitt Bukater, played by Kate Winslet, finds a door from the ship floating in the icy water and uses it as a life raft. Her lover, Jack Dawson, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, hangs onto the door but slips into the freezing ocean and dies. 

Viewers have long debated if Jack could've been saved had he gotten on the floating door. But according to Heritage Auctions, which sold the prop, it's not even a door.

According to Heritage Auctions, the door that Jack and Rose float on at the end of "Titanic" is not even a door. Heritage Auctions

The carved piece of wood is based on an actual piece of debris salvaged from the Titanic. The debris was part of the door frame found above the first-class lounge entrance in the ship built by Harland and Wolff. The ship famously split in two after hitting the iceberg, and the piece of wood is believed to have come from the area of division, rising to the surface as the ship sank, according to the auction house. 

Cameron regularly visited the Maritime Museum in Halifax, Nova Scotia while preparing for the film and the prop door resembles an old Louis XV-style panel exhibited at the museum. 

From left, Leonardo DiCaprio as Jack and Kate Winslet as Rose cling to a door after the ship sank in James Cameron's 1997 film "Titanic."  Paramount Pictures

The prop is 8 feet long and 41 inches wide and is broken, as it was in the film. Despite the fact that it was a broken piece of wood, many believe Jack could've fit on it – and even the Discovery Channel's "Mythbusters" took on the quandary. They found that if they had tied Rose's lifejacket to the bottom of the door, it could have also supported Jack. 

"[Jack] needed to die," Cameron told Postmedia in 2022, according to The Toronto Sun. "It's like Romeo and Juliet. It's a movie about love and sacrifice and mortality. The love is measured by the sacrifice…Maybe after 25 years, I won't have to deal with this anymore."

To try and put the debate to bed, Cameron even conducted a scientific study to test if both Jack and Rose could've survived on the door. "We took two stunt people who were the same body mass of Kate and Leo and we put sensors all over them and inside them and we put them in ice water and we tested to see whether they could have survived through a variety of methods and the answer was, there was no way they both could have survived," he said. "Only one could survive."

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