Han Solo's DL-44 Blaster from "Star Wars" smashes auction records
The original and sole remaining Blastech DL-44 Blaster used by Han Solo (Harrison Ford) in the first 1977 Star Wars movie (Star Wars: A New Hope) has sold for a record US$1,057,500 at Rock Island Auctions.
The sale represents a new record for a movie weapon, eclipsing the $615,000 paid last November for the Laser Rifle used by Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner) in the ground-breaking Star Trek TV Series, another Han Solo DL-44 from "Return of the Jedi" ($562,500), John Wayne's Colt Revolver used in "The Cowboys," "True Grit" and "Rooster Cogburn" ($517,000) and Luke Skywalker’s Lightsaber ($450,000), also from the original Star Wars movie, "Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope."
Three of the four most expensive movie weapons ever sold at auction have now been sold in the last 12 months, indicating that movie memorabilia prices have joined the COVID-induced auction gold rush being experienced by many other collectible auction genres.
The sale also confirms the "Blastech DL-44 Heavy Blaster" from the Star Wars movie franchise as the world's most iconic movie weapon as it is the third time that Han Solo's DL-44 has become the most expensive movie weapon at auction.
On June 5-6, 2007, Little John’s Auction Service sold the famous Stembridge Armory Collection in an auction at the Phoenix Club in Anaheim and during that sale, a screen-used DL-44 used from Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (1983) went to auction as Lot 31 with an estimate of $3,000 to $6,000. What followed was a bidding war that involved Joe Maddalena (then the owner of Profiles in History, now from Heritage Auctions) and Brandon Alinger (of London's PropStore) and David Jackson (of Back Lot Props), in which Jackson prevailed, driving the price to $201,600 and a new world record for a movie weapon.
Though another screen-used DL-44 used from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (1983) sold for $240,000 on 21 December 2013, it was overshadowed by other movie weapons at that time, most notably the Laser Rifle used by Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner) in the Star Trek TV Series (sold for $240,625 on 5 April 2013) and the Walther LP53 seen in the opening credits of the James Bond movies ($437,001 | £277,250 | 25 Nov 2010).
The most famous weapon from the Eon Productions/United Artists/James Bond/007 movie franchise was the Walther 'LP MOD.53' Air Pistol that was used during the opening credits of From Russia with Love (1963), Goldfinger (1965), Thunderball (1965) and You Only Live Twice (1967) movies, (the second through fifth films in the series), and the 2005 videogame From Russia With Love. It held the world record for any movie weapon from November 2010, through until June 2017. It sold at a Christie’s auction on 25 November 2010 for £277,250 ($437,001) against a conservative estimate of £15,000 to £20,000. The winning bidder was film director Michael Winner, who was diagnosed with a terminal illness just two years later. Winner subsequently put his entire collection up for auction again in 2012. On 12 December 2012, the same gun fetched just £121,250 ($195,637).
On 23 June 2018 yet another DL-44 used in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (1983) sold for $562,500, this time exceeding the $450,000 paid the original lightsaber used by Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) in Star Wars: A New Hope (1977) and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980). The original lightsaber had been constructed from a 1930s Graflex flashgun and had become the most valuable movie weapon at auction on 26 June 2017 when Profiles in History (now Heritage Auctions) sold it as Lot #2309 at Profiles in History's Hollywood Auction 89, with an estimate of $300,000 to $500,000.
Last November (2021), the Laser Rifle of Captain James T Kirk (William Shatner) from the original Star Trek TV series second pilot pushed the record to $615,000. The same movie prop had previously sold for $240,625 in 2013.
Over the last two years almost every genre of the auction world has experienced an astonishing growth in prices and though four of the highest 12 auction prices for movie weapons have been paid for movie weapons in the last 12 months, most other categories are trending far more spectacularly.
That will almost certainly change on 28 August when Rock Island Auctions, the world’s largest firearm auctioneer, will sell the only surviving example of “the Greedo Killer”, the original Han Solo DL-44 Heavy Blaster from the original Star Wars movie - Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope.
Ironically, the original overkill heavy blaster (think of the DL-44 as the Magnum 44 of the future) that was preferred by pirates and smugglers in Star Wars because of its ability to penetrate Stormtrooper armor, was based on a German military weapon designed in the 1890s: the Mauser C96.
The Mauser C96 was cast by Ian Fleming as the sidearm of choice of the evil SMERSH agents in the original James Bond novels, and can be seen on screen in period dramas such as Peaky Blinders. Rock Island Auctions has a feature on the now popular collector gun, and it should be noted that one of the factors driving the popularity of the C96 is the ease with which it can be converted into a DL-44 replica. The additional parts are now manufactured commercially and can now be purchased for a quick conversion build. Fan sites such as The Rebel Armory can show you numerous ways to own a gun just like the one going to auction in August.
There are now three Han Solo (Harrison Ford) DL-44s in the top 20 most expensive movie weapons, but there are actually four weapons screen-used by Harrison Ford in the top 20. The fourth is the Blaster used in the Ridley Scott science fiction movie "Blade Runner" (1982). Playing Rick Deckard, Harrison Ford used the "Blaster" in his role as the “blade runner” who tracks down and kills humanoid “replicants.” The Blaster was sold at auction in 2009 for $270,000, becoming the most expensive movie weapon sold to that point in time.
Legendary actor John Wayne owned and used this 1909 Colt Single Action Army Revolver in the movies "The Cowboys" (1972), “True Grit" (1969) and "Rooster Cogburn" (1975) plus a number of other movies that were not validated. Wayne owned the gun for several decades, having it modified with an oversized trigger guard because his fingers were too large to fit inside the trigger guard of a standard gun. It became one of the most valuable movie guns ever sold at auction when it fetched $517,500 at Rock Island Auctions on 7 October 2021.