The sci-fi sale of the century
Greg Jein is sci-fi royalty. He built the detailed miniature filming models that we gasped at in many of the movies and television series that shaped our view of the future, at the same time as assembling a collection of the finest movie props from an insider’s viewpoint with insider access. He worked with the directors and producers and prop and wardrobe masters and at the end of the day he dug through garbage cans in all the right places.
The sci-fi movie memorabilia industry has been at warp speed for several decades now, with licensed paraphernalia now available in every department store and licensees of every feather queueing up at licensors to cater for the millions of fans of science fiction movies in myriad ways.
At the pinnacle of the collectibles spectrum though, screen-featured artifacts from Star Wars and Star Trek still rule, with prices pushing forever higher as each icon takes its turn again at auction. As movie and TV filming requires prohibitively expensive casts and crews and equipment hire, there are usually two, three or more identical replicas of each major prop as insurance against breakage. Keeping a battalion of highly paid people waiting is madness – so there are several hero props and plenty of stunt props for distance shots. That's why iconic props generally turn up regularly at auction.
Greg Jein's collection is different, partly due to its size, but partly because he was there, knew exactly what everything was, and he cherry-picked many of the most desirable items well before anyone else valued them. He did value them, and now they are all for sale.
The auction is being curated by Joe Maddalena (three decades as the principal of Profiles in History, plus Jein's friend and fellow collector) who wrote: "What studios too often saw as trash, Jein revered as invaluable treasures – links to the past, paths to the future."
"This auction is possible only because Greg Jein saw the enormous value in Hollywood's most minuscule things."
"Greg was the ultimate custodian, keeping intact this massive archive never for profit, never for financial gain, " Maddalena says. "This is who he was. This auction is a testament to Greg's perseverance and his passion."
Here's a brief overview of some of the wonderful things that will sell later this week.
Red Leader X-wing Model Miniature
In the original Star Wars movie of 1977, X-wing fighter spacecraft were used by the heroes to attack the Death Star in the film's climax. This lot is the screen-matched hero "Red Leader" (Red One) X-wing Starfighter 1:24 scale filming miniature that was at the very center of that action. It was built by the team at Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) and is one of only four hero filming miniatures created with servo-controlled wings that spread open into "Attack Position."
These models are among the most valuable in the sci-fi collecting genre, with the last one to reach auction fetching US$2,375,000 at a Propstore Auction in June 2022. The Heritage auction page for this lot is definitely worth a visit as it contains lots of original ILM filming imagery (as does the Propstore auction page for the $2.375-million prop), and while it's all done with computers these days, ILM and this type of miniature/digital hybrid motion picture magic was in its infancy half a century ago. Indeed, ILM was pushing the bleeding edge of this technology at that time, as evidenced by it winning the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects for this movie. This model is a testimony to a landmark in storytelling technology.
Incomparable Imperial Stormtrooper Costume from "Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope"
An original first-movie Stormtrooper costume from the Star Wars movie series is one of the rarest of all science fiction memorabilia on the auction block.
This Imperial Stormtrooper Costume from "Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope" is beautiful, original, screen-matched, complete, in extraordinary condition and one of the hero items from the filming of the first Star Wars movie.
In 2011, Christie's sold a Stormtrooper costume made up of bits and pieces from the first two Star Wars movies for USD $318,733 (GBP £205,250) ... without a helmet.
By contrast this costume is at the far end of the scale of authenticity. It is the most complete costume known, and even includes the original thin black leather belt used to attach the thigh armor to the actor. This belt is the only surviving example and the crowning glory of the costume is the helmet. Only six "hero" helmets were made for the film, and this is one of three extant. After filming was completed, this costume was one of the two in best condition selected for additional pick-up shots such as the 'space trooper' standing at the entrance of Death Star Docking Bay 327 as the Millennium Falcon is drawn in by the tractor beam. This particular Stormtrooper costume is prominently featured throughout the film and has been screen matched to scenes shared with both Princess Leia and Darth Vader – see the above image.
Hence a record price for a complete Stormtrooper costume seems just a formality in this auction. We count five different Stormtrooper helmets that have sold for more than $200,000 at auction and the helmet from this complete costume is better than all of them and would unquestionably set a record price if it were sold separately. What's more, as the "hero hero" costume retained for additional shooting and important promotional appearances, the costume has its own provenance, appearing in the Donny and Marie Star Wars Special (1977), the Star Wars Holiday Special (1978), and the 50th Academy Awards (1978). It is unicorn rare, rich with history, and the most complete and best condition example known to exist from the first original Star Wars film (1977). We will be one of many tragic believers watching when this auction reaches its climax because we expect some newsmaking to be done with this lot.
Captain Kirk's outfits from Star Trek
Jein was obsessed with Star Trek from the first episode in 1966, and over time he befriended the series' designers and prop masters, which enabled him to assemble an unrivaled wardrobe collection that includes 12 different outfits worn by Captain Kirk (William Shatner) during the original series and 1979 movie.
Captain Kirk (Shatner) outfits from the original series have been coming to auction for years and from the above image composite of some of the outfits going to auction in October, similar costumes to the top left and bottom right outfits have not previously been to auction (at least we can’t find them), while an identical Starfleet Command jacket (at top right) sold for $127,000 in September 2023 and a William Shatner "Captain Kirk" Tunic and Pants from Season 1 of Star Trek: The Original Series like those at bottom left sold for $125,000 in February 2022 and $72,000 in 2016.
Captain Kirk is not the only member of the crew represented in the costume department of this auction, with numerous tunics and uniforms worn by the command crew, including five worn by Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) (even his Vulcan robe from The Voyage Home), seven outfits worn by Dr. McCoy (DeForest Kelley), three by Lt. Uhura (Nichelle Nichols), one by Mr. Sul (George Takei), four by Chief Engineer Montgomery “Scotty” Scott (three by James Doohan and one by Simon Pegg) and one by Nurse Chapel (Majel Barrett).
Vulcan Lute from "Star Trek: The Original Series"
Musical instruments from alien worlds have always captured the imagination of the public and the Vulcan Lute that is being offered from the collection of Greg Jein stands every possibility of smashing auction records.
The Vulcan Lute was used in numerous episodes of Star Trek: The Original Series (Paramount, 1966-1969), the mythical 12-stringed instrument was a native instrument from Spock’s home planet of Vulcan.
The exotic, long-necked Lute plays quite distinctive soothing music and features many times in Original Series episodes such as "Charlie X", "Amok Time" and "The Way To Eden". "Uhura" (Nichelle Nichols) also sang while accompanying herself with this instrument in the episode, "The Conscience of the King."
To our knowledge, there has never been an original Vulcan Lute offered at auction previously, though there have been replicas manufactured and also digitally reproduced for the Trek-obsessed out there.
Hence the auction record for a Vulcan Harp will be set when the Vulcan Lute sells at auction on 14 October 2023, but some guidance on what price it might fetch can be taken from the prices achieved at auction by its equivalent musical instrument in the reimagining of Star Trek by Gene Roddenberry in Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG).
The musical instrument used by Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) in TNG was the Ressikan Flute, and it sold for $48,000 at a Christie’s auction in 2006, then again at a Propstore auction in 2021 for $237,500. Prices for memorabilia from TOS is usually much greater than from TNG, hence with those precedents, the original Vulcan Harp might fetch considerably more than $250,000.
Astronaut Space Suit from "2001: A Space Odyssey"
There are two classes of space suit that regularly appear at auction – real and “make believe” movie space suits, with the latter being considerably more expensive. So while this space suit is unauthentic and constructed from an amalgamation of components in fiberglass, resin, plastics and metal, it is from what is arguably the greatest scifi movie of all time, and hence has a minimum first bid of $80,000 (with buyers premium that’s $100,000). That first $100,000 will only get you into the game, and our guess would be more than $250,000 for this item. From our viewpoint, we consider the real space suits that pop up from time to time are relative bargains
The original concept artwork for "2001: a Space Odyssey"
NASA space artist Robert McCall had a most remarkable career visualizing both the present and the future, working for Life magazine, creating conceptual and promotional artwork for many movies, documenting the history of the Space Race for NASA , with his illustrations appearing on U.S. postage stamps, NASA mission patches, on the walls of the National Air and Space Museum, the National Gallery of Art, The Pentagon, Epcot, and Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center.
His best known work though, is this poster - his production illustration on 2001: A Space Odyssey. McCall was known for creating incredible concept artworks he would present to the producers, and, once approved, he would create a new painting based exactly on his final approved concept. This is the monumentally important production artwork from this seminal science fiction epic. Another first and another potential newsmaker.
Type-2 Stunt Phaser Pistol from "Star Trek: TOS" and many other well-known weapons
The Type-2 Phaser Pistol from Star Trek: The Original Series (Paramount TV, 1966-1969) has been one of the most desirable and valuable memorabilia items for decades, and has perpetually held a place in the top 20 most valuable movie weapons of all-time. The last two to come to auction have fetched $192,000 (in 2018) and $250,000 (in 2021) respectively, and there are two such pistols going to auction from the Greg Jein Collection – one that will most likely break that record, and a “stunt” version that will sell for less.
The most intriguing aspect of this auction is that there are a number of other movie weapons going to auction that we expect to sell for considerable amounts of money, but we can’t get any clear visibility on which ones or how much, because like so many of the Greg Jein Collection treasures, they haven't been to auction before. Among those with potential appeal to die hard fans is a Laser Pistol from the sci-fi classic Forbidden Planet (MGM, 1956), a Klingon Hero Disruptor Pistol from Star Trek: The Original Series (Paramount TV, 1966-1969), an Eminian Sonic Disruptor Weapon from Star Trek: The Original Series (Paramount TV, 1966-1969), and yet another lot contains a set of three Starfleet Assault Phasers (one Hero, one static and one stunt) from Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (Paramount, 1991).
Aside from the Type-2 Phaser Pistol, the sci-fi weapon with the greatest potential in this auction is the Laser Pistol from the first pilot episode of Star Trek: The Original Series that was entitled The Cage. We've never seen one at auction before but a Phaser Rifle from the second Star Trek pilot episode, which eventually aired on 22 September 1966 as Where No Man Has Gone Before (Paramount TV, 1966-1969) has fared spectacularly at auction.
More than a decade ago, the rifle sold for $240,625 at Julien's Auctions, then it made a triumphant return to auction in 2021 when it fetched $615,000 to become the most valuable movie weapon ever sold. It has since been relieved of that title by Rock Island Auctions which sold Han Solo's (Harrison Ford) Blastech DL-44 Blaster from Star Wars: IV - A New Hope (1977) for $1,057,500 in August 2022.
Envy and Greed from Fritz Lang’s "Metropolis" (1927)
If you were to create a list of the most important science fiction works of all time, director Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (UFA, 1927; recast ca. 1980s) would be one of the first chosen, and Greg Jein managed to add memorabilia from that century-old movie to his collection in a unique way.
The Metropolis items are some of the many gems tucked away in the Greg Jein Collection: a pair of busts pulled from full sized statues that were sculpted by Walter Schulze-Mittendorf for the movie. Sci-fi fans will know Metropolis already, as it is the first feature length movie of the sci-fi genre. The movie was made at enormous expense yet made a handsome profit. The movie has now been remastered in 4K and colorized and can be seen in its entirety on youtube.
In the movie, one of the scenes (at the 67-minute mark of the above movie) involves the hero going into a room where there are statues representing “death” and the seven deadly sins. The statues come to life and begin to walk away.
Jein was a rabid Batman collector
Now Batman may not exactly be science fiction, but Greg Jein collected Batman memorabilia like few others ever have. Just one example of his enthusiasm for all things Batman is his Batarang Collection.
Batman’s Batarang has featured in almost every rendition of the character, from the original CBS television series (1965-1968) through to The Batman (2022) and if you had to guess what the most valuable movie Batarang would be, you’d probably go for one of the 1960s originals but you’d be wrong – at least until this collection sells.
The most valuable Batarang at auction came from Matt Reeves' superhero film The Batman, with a batarang fetching US$50,090 (£43,750) on 4 October 2022 at a Propstore auction in London. The batarang played a central role in the film as Batman (Robert Pattinson) used his batarang to cut the electric cable which threatened the lives of Gotham citizens at the arena during the climax of the film. His batarang also doubled as his chest emblem when clipped into his suit. One significant factor associated with this item was a Warner Brothers certificate of authenticity.
The most valuable batarang from the 1960s TV show was used by "Robin" in the 1966 first season episode "The Joker Goes to School." The folding batarang sold for $25,000 at Heritage Auctions on 7 November 2021. The most valuable batarang used by the original Batman (Adam West) sold for $22,500 at Heritage Auctions on 29 July 2023.
The "Lost in Space" All-Terrain Chariot
Since Netflix reprised and reimagined the 1960s TV show Lost in Space (CBS, 1965-1968) we have seen artifacts from the original series become disproportionally more valuable. In particular the interest in the All-Terrain Chariot from the original series has risen considerably thanks to the modern day equivalent playing an even greater role in the now dormant three-season Netflix series. Less than two months ago an almost identical filming miniature of the All-Terrain Chariot fetched $93,750, so the $50,000 starting bid is most likely to be just that – a starting bid.
With the Greg Jean provenance, we’d be very surprised if this doesn’t run to more than six figures. The Chariot is just one of many near priceless filming miniatures in this collection, some of which Greg Jein crafted with his own surgical precision and prodigious imagination. They are the true gems in this enormous crowning glory.
The number of lots in this auction is immense. If you have a spare few minutes, you might find something that you will value and cherish as Greg did.