I think a lot of it was down to the person and if they held any merit or regard in the pieces they were given, look at how many Oscars are kept propping many a door open..."But this does give me an excuse to post this classic pic of James Dean surrounded by plaster death masks.."
In his late stage GIANT costume, and aged makeup, in Perc Westmore's studio space.
Second mask is Brando. I think the first is Raymond Burr (CRY IN THE NIGHT).
Also, I think Jimmy put his glasses on the lower head.
I think examples of 'gifts' given to cast and crew, from silents through the Golden Age, are few are far between. Proof is the many estates that have come to market, that lack almost anything from that period - to my great disappointment.
John Wayne kept almost to every item he ever wore.. Boris Karloff aka William H Pratts wife had a vast collection. The wizard of Oz lion suit, Dorothy's Red shoes.
Valentino Chaplin Laurel and Hardy Casablanca
King Kong Sunset boulevard and many universal monsters...
You only have to look at FJA of Famous Monsters fame and his currated museum that once was to see a slew of classic pieces from All genres..
I suppose thats getting away from the OG post which was about items going missing but FJA was probably instrumental in starting the whole prop collecting and come to think of it prop making in all those bright young minds in the first place and saved a great many pieces for posterity.
And where does the buck stop..How many fan based projects out in the world have used screen produced molds or copies of to create a further copy of a copyright protected object ?
Obviously there is the non profit side of things but its still at the heart of it someone else's work but its also free publicity for a franchise as you are an active and Free Advertisement board for that franchise/movie/TV show
And of course from our perspective a fun hobby with hours of enjoyment pooled into it.