A piece of ‘Star Wars’ history thought to be lost has been found in the collection of the late Oscar-nominated modelmaker Greg Jein.
An original 20-inch model of an X-Wing starfighter that was used in the climactic final space battle of the 1977 film ‘Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope’ and was thought lost when ILM moved from California’s San Fernando Valley to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1978.
It will now be sold at a Heritage Auction on October 14 and 15 in Dallas, Texas.
Bidding for the X-Wing will start at $400,000.
Built by Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), the “Red Leader” X-Wing is one of just four hero-filming miniatures with articulating servo-controlled wings and lights, according to the auction description.
Hero models were built for close-ups and used in the final battle against the Death Star, including the famous trench run.
The VFX historian Gene Kozicki told The Hollywood Reporter, “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.”
Kozicki further explained that he had heard stories of unaccounted hero models when ILM moved buildings.
“We never could confirm anything. It became something of a mythical ‘white whale’ — the missing ‘Star Wars’ X-wing,” Kozicki said.
The X-Wing was discovered when Kozicki, the ILM VFX supervisor Bill George, modelmaker Lou Zutavern, and Jein’s friend Rob McFalane discovered it in a cardboard box while cataloging Jein’s collection.
Kozicki said, “The four of us knew immediately that it was the actual filming model and then the magnitude of the discovery started to set in.”