A remarkable piece of cinematic history took center stage at the recent weekend auction held at Heritage Auctions in Dallas. A miniature X-wing Starfighter, famously used in a “Star Wars” film, achieved an astonishing sale price of over $3 million. This remarkable event showcased a treasure trove of items meticulously collected and crafted by the late Hollywood model-maker, Greg Jein.
Greg Jein’s Illustrious Collection
Greg Jein, who passed away last year at the age of 76, left behind a legacy that not only included an Oscar and Emmy-nominated career in miniature model-making but also an extensive collection of Hollywood memorabilia. His collection, showcased at the Heritage Auctions event, garnered a total of approximately $13.6 million. The auction drew a diverse crowd, from model-makers to avid collectors and science-fiction enthusiasts. Joe Maddalena, Heritage’s executive vice president and a close friend of Jein, described the auction as a profound testament to Jein’s unparalleled expertise in visual effects and his passion as a collector.
The Red Leader X-wing Starfighter Steals the Show
One of the standout items in the auction was the Red Leader X-wing Starfighter, famous for its appearance in the 1977 film “Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope.” This iconic piece fetched an impressive $3.1 million after an intense bidding war between two passionate collectors. In addition to the X-wing Starfighter, other notable items found new homes at the auction. A “Star Wars” Stormtrooper costume commanded attention with its sale price of $645,000. A rare spacesuit from Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 film “2001: A Space Odyssey” also found a buyer, selling for $447,000.
A ‘Star Trek’ Connection
Greg Jein’s love for “Star Trek” was evident through his collection, and some of these items found eager buyers. A filming model of the “SS Botany Bay” vessel from “Star Trek: The Original Series” from the 1960s fetched $200,000, while prop devices from the series, including a hero phaser ($187,500) and a tricorder ($175,000), were also in demand.
A Glimpse into Jein’s Career
Jein’s early career highlight was leading the team that created the mothership for Steven Spielberg’s 1977 film “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” This mammoth model, now part of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., was over 5 feet (1.5 meters) long. Additionally, a small preliminary model, measuring about 5 inches (12 centimeters), fetched $55,000 at the auction.
A Fond Farewell
Lou Zutavern, Jein’s longtime friend and shop supervisor, fondly remembered their time working together. He emphasized Jein’s unwavering passion for Hollywood history and his enthusiasm for hunting down collectible items.
“He loved the search and finding things and making a trade,” Zutavern recalled. “It was part of the fun for him.”
Greg Jein’s legacy continues to shine through the remarkable auction that celebrated his contributions to both Hollywood and the world of collectors.