Miniature ‘Star Wars’ X-wing gets over $3 million at auction of Hollywood model-maker’s collection


DALLAS (AP) — A miniature X-wing Starfighter used in a “Star Wars” film sold for over $3 million during an auction over the weekend of items both collected and created by longtime Hollywood model-maker Greg Jein.

The collection amassed by Jein, who died last year at the age of 76, brought in about $13.6 million during an event at Heritage Auctions in Dallas. The auction house said that everyone from model-makers to collectors and science-fiction fans attended, making the event its best-attended in years.

Joe Maddalena, Heritage’s executive vice president and a longtime friend of Jein’s, said in a news release Monday that the auction was “a profound testament to my friend as both a visual-effects master and one of the great collectors.”

Jein not only had an Oscar and Emmy-nominated career making miniature models for nearly half a century, but he also spent a lifetime collecting costumes, props, scripts, artwork, photographs and models from the shows he loved.

The Red Leader X-wing Starfighter that was used in the 1977 film “Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope” sold for about $3.1 million after a bidding duel between two collectors, the auction house said. Also going for an eye-popping amount was a “Star Wars” Stormtrooper costume that sold for $645,000.

A rare surviving spacesuit from Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 film “2001: A Space Odyssey” sold for $447,000.

Jein was a fan of “ Star Trek ” before he worked on the franchise — and some of the items that he collected were popular at the auction. A filming model of the “SS Botany Bay” vessel from “Star Trek: The Original Series” from the 1960s went for $200,000 while prop devices from that series like a hero phaser went for $187,500 and a tricorder garnered $175,000.

Jein, who grew up in Los Angeles, was still early in his career when he led the team that created the mothership for Steven Spielberg’s 1977 film “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” The model that appears gigantic in the movie is just over 5 feet (1.5 meters) long and now part of the collection at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. A small preliminary model, which is about 5 inches (12 centimeters) long, brought in $55,000 at the auction.

Lou Zutavern, Jein’s longtime friend and shop supervisor, said that he and Jein always had “a ball” working together. He said Jein was a great friend, and recalled the time he brought a box filled with model kits to entertain Zutavern after he had a knee surgery.

Zutavern said his friend had a love of Hollywood history, and a passion for seeking out items for his collection.

“He loved the search and finding things and making a trade,” Zutavern said. “It was part of the fun for him.”

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