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Lost Star Wars X-Wing Fighter Model Sells for $3.1 Million

By Lori Perkins

A 22-inch Star Wars X-Wing Starfighter model, that was used in A New Hope and once thought to be lost, just sold for $3.1 million, far exceeding the opening bid of $400,000.  According to The New York Times, a similar X-Wing model sold for $2.4 million last year. According to Heritage Auctions, this sale "just set the record for the most expensive Star Wars screen-used prop sold at auction."

The X-wing starfighter model was a part of late Oscar-nominated modelmaker Greg Jein’s collection and was thought to be lost for decades but was recently found in a box in Jein’s garage.

This “Red Leader” (Red One) X-Wing Starfighter model was built in 1977 by Industrial Light & Magic  (ILM) as one of just four “hero” filming miniatures with articulating servo-controlled wings and lights, according to the auction catalog description. Hero models were built for close-ups and used in the final battle, including the trench run. 

“This model has not been displayed or modified since it left ILM,” VFX historian Gene Kozicki told The Hollywood Reporter in a recent interview. “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 explained that there were stories of hero models that were unaccounted for when ILM moved north to the San Francisco Bay Area from California’s San Fernando Valley in 1978. “We never could confirm anything,” said Kozicki, who was one of a handful of VFX experts who recently found the model while helping Jein’s family catalog his personal collection of memorabilia. “It became something of a mythical ‘white whale’ — the missing Star Wars X-wing.”


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