Star Wars Relic Fetches Record-Breaking Price

Long-lost X-wing model from the 1977 film, recently found in late designer's garage, sells for $3.1M
By Gina Carey,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 23, 2023 8:30 AM CDT
Updated Oct 21, 2023 6:00 AM CDT
Missing Star Wars Relic Turns Up in a Garage
A recently found "Star Wars" relic is up for auction.   (Heritage Auctions)
UPDATE Oct 16, 2023 8:34 AM CDT

A Star Wars artifact is now headed to a new owner's hands. The Guardian reports that on Sunday, the 20-inch model of an X-wing starfighter discovered in its late maker's garage became the "most expensive Star Wars screen-used prop sold at auction," per a statement from Heritage Auctions. The winning bid for designer Greg Jein's piece of movie history: a record-busting $3.1 million. It's not clear who scooped up the relic, one of only four "hero" models used in the 1977 film. The Wrap and CNN note that other items from Jein's collection also brought in some cash over the weekend, including a Stormtrooper outfit from the first film in the Star Wars franchise, which went for $645,000, as well as a stack of original production scripts that sold for nearly $28,000.

Sep 23, 2023 8:30 AM CDT

A piece of Star Wars history was recently discovered in a garage, and this October it's up for auction. Catch is, unless fans know some Jedi mind tricks, they'll need very deep pockets to get close to it. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the starting bid for the 20-inch X-wing starfighter belonging to late model-maker Greg Jein must ante up $400K. The hefty price is due to the X-wing's role in the franchise's first film in 1977. Heritage Auctions' website states that there were only four "hero models" used in the film, and this is one of them, specifically a model of Red Leader (or Red One). It has working lights, a customized paint job, and motorized wings that open into attack position.

"For those of us that grew up in the '70s or '80s, and those of us that work in visual effects, this model is as significant a find as the ruby red slippers or the Maltese Falcon," said Gene Kozicki, a visual effects historian and friend of Jein's. Kozicki was helping Jein's family rummage through his vast collection of rare movie memorabilia when he came upon a cardboard box, reports the New York Times. "It was like, 'Holy cow, we found an X-wing, a real, honest-to-goodness X-wing,'" Kozicki told the Times. "We were carrying on like kids on Christmas." Red One was distinguishable by the single red stripe on its wings and was seen in close-up shots, as well as the film's ending battle scene.

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Although there were four hero models, Red One has a little more intrigue behind it because it's been missing for decades. When the company Jein worked for, Industrial Light & Magic, moved offices in 1978, rumors sparked that some models were unaccounted for. "We never could confirm anything," Kozicki said. "It became something of a mythical 'white whale'—the missing Star Wars X-wing." Jein did not keep a record of how he came to obtain the rare model—or the hundreds of valuable props also up for auction in his collection, which filled several garages and storage facilities in Los Angeles. The Times notes it will include gems like William Shatner's lace hairpiece from the original Star Trek and Batman's yellow utility belt from the 1960s TV series. But the X-wing is likely the crowning jewel—a similar model went for $2.4 million in 2022. (Read more auction stories.)

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