A model X-wing fighter used in the first Star Wars film, 1977’s Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope sold at auction last week for $3.1 million. It is the highest price ever paid for a Star Wars movie prop.
The 22-inch miniature was part of a massive collection of over 500 props, scripts, and Hollywood memorabilia amassed by late visual effects artist Greg Jein.
Jein’s friends discovered the X-wing tucked away in a cardboard box as they sorted through his vast archives spread across storage units in Los Angeles following his death last year.
“The success of this auction was a profound testament to Greg Jein as both a visual-effects master and one of the great collectors,” said Joe Maddalena of Heritage Auctions, which conducted the two-day auction in Dallas.
A space suit from 2001@ A Space Odyssey raised $645,000.
The X-wing was one of four ‘hero’ models built for A New Hope featuring motorized wings, fibre-optic lighting, laser cannons, and cooling systems. A similar prop sold last year for $2.4 million.
Hundreds of science fiction fans attended the event, Heritage’s best-attended sale in years.
The Jein collection netted $13.6 million total, making it the second-highest grossing Hollywood auction behind Debbie Reynolds’ $22 million collection.
Although Jein’s personal passion was Star Trek, for which he built models in the 1980s, the X-wing was for most the star lot.
Almost half of the 500 lots were Star Trek-related. A model of the USS Botany Bay from the original 1960s series sold for $200,000.
A spacesuit from 2001: A Space Odyssey raised $645,000. A Star Wars Imperial Stormtrooper costume hit the same price. A collection of over 300 Star Trek scripts by creator Gene Roddenberry also sold for $200,000.
Star Trek and Star Wars are surely the most valuable science fiction series works for collectors. Both have enormous fanbases of dedicated followers. Both used ground-breaking physical visual effects. And both pioneered marketing and monetisation, producing huge numbers of toys and other mass-market collectibles.