DALLAS, Texas (KFOR/Storyful) – You know when bidding starts at $400,000 that an item will auction for a lot of money – but $3.1 million? That’s what the winning bidder just paid for a Star Wars x-wing starfighter, which was featured in the original 1977 movie and had been “missing” for decades.
The model is part of a vast collection of movie memorabilia, previously belonging to Greg Jein, an Oscar-nominated modelmaker on films such as Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
Heritage Auctions describes the “Red Leader” (Red One) x-wing starfighter as one of four separate “hero” models created for the original film, which was seen many times in the film during galactic battle scenes.
“It flies overhead after Luke pulls out of his strafing run and reports that he ‘got a little cooked’ but is still OK,” the description stated of one of the Red Leader’s many scenes. “Without question, this Hero X-wing miniature represents the pinnacle of Star Wars artifacts to ever reach the market,” the auction house stated.
Jein passed away last year. According to The Hollywood Reporter, while going through his estate, several visual effects experts who were helping Jein’s family catalogue his vast collection, stumbled upon the model in a cardboard box.
While no one knows how the model became part of Jein’s collection, VFX historian Gene Kozicki told The Hollywood Reporter that one of the four models went missing when Industrial Light & Magic, the company that built them, moved from one California studio to another in 1978.
“We never could confirm anything. It became something of a mythical ‘white whale’ – the missing Star Wars X-wing,” Kozicki told the outlet.
Video at the top of this story shows items from Jein’s extensive and eclectic collection.