When item No. 712 was announced at Christie's Star Trek auction, the assembled crowd oohed and aahed with anticipation. "Is this an important lot?" joked auctioneer Richard Brierley. No doubt. It was the Starship Enterprise-D, the 78-inch model used for exterior shots on Star Trek: The Next Generation. In just three minutes, the presale estimate of $35,000 was photon-torpedoed, and ultimately an anonymous phone bidder ponied up $576,000 for the top seller of the October 5-7 auction. That single-item expenditure even surpassed the $284,800 that was taken in by the Enterprise-A model, which had been used for the first six Trek films. (In case you were wondering, the model featured in the original 1966-69 series is housed at the Smithsonian.)
The $576K Enterprise-D wasn't the only "anomaly" during this most unusual auction, which raked in a total of $7.1 million for 1,000 lots. After all, it's not every day that Christie's staffers wear authentic Starfleet uniforms (courtesy of Paramount). And who would have thought that the typically press-shy Avery Brooks (aka Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's Captain Sisko) would make an appearance? (Though he was actually there to film an interview for a History Channel documentary on the franchise, he did briefly enter the bidding room instead of sneaking out the back.) "It brings back great feelings of nostalgia," Brooks said right before a woman ran up and jokingly asked him, in the spirit of the day, to sell his jacket or sunglasses to her. Conan O'Brien even showed up to film a video piece. "This is pretty incredible," he said, "[but] I actually blew all my money at the Green Acres auction."
Well, everyone else blew their cash on the many little pieces of Gene Roddenberry's vision. Like Gary Sekulow, an accountant from Georgia who soon will be living a fan's dream. With the acquisition of two ship consoles from Star Trek: Nemesis, one of Captain Archer's chairs from Star Trek: Enterprise and gray paneling from TNG (plus $30,600), he's planning to pimp his home theater Trek-style. "My electrician was on standby if I was able to get this," said Sekulow, "so he's going to be happy."
Patrick Stewart look-alike Giles Aston, a graphic designer from England, showed up in uniform and paid $6,000 for a costume from Nemesis, the 2002 film that featured a clone of Captain Picard. "I've always wanted the Nemesis uniform because I am a clone, ultimately," said Aston, who has made paid appearances as Stewart. "I wish they could release it for me and I could have it on now."
Eric Troyer, a North Carolina physician, won so many lots 19 total, at an outlay of more than $125,000 that he's thinking of opening up a mini-museum in his state. (Stefan Hallin of Sweden is considering doing the same.) However, you can be sure that the DS9 medical signs from Dr. Bashir's infirmary will hang outside Troyer's own office.
One of the few big-ticket items to be sold "in the room," as opposed to going to mysterious online and phone bidders, was the $132,000 Star Trek: Voyager ship model, which went to Adrian Hancock of England. "Your heart's racing," said the candy-company co-owner, describing the frenzied bidding process. "When that hammer went down, it was such a high. I'm still trying to calm down!" Hancock plans to hang the ship in the converted barn next to his home that houses other movie collectibles, as well as a bar and pool table.
While collectors will likely place their valuable costumes on mannequins, other proud owners, like England's Jennie Rix, will be sporting hers in this case, Deanna Troi's "dress uniform" from TNG at conventions or costume parties. "I hope I do the uniform justice," said Rix, who dispensed $2,880 for the duds. When reached the day after the sale, actress Marina Sirtis, who played Troi, was glad to hear that one of her costumes would now be residing in her native country. "That's wonderful," she said. "I hope that if I do a convention in England she wears it and comes to see me." (Sirtis kindly warned Rix to be careful of "VPLs," aka visible panty lines.)
Meanwhile, Angela Simmons' 13-year-old daughter, Micki, has other, more formal plans for her new $2,880 dress that was once worn by Jolene Blalock as the Vulcan T'Pol on Enterprise. "I'm going to wear it at my wedding," she promised.
Each winning bidder was elated to obtain a coveted Trek artifact. Nonetheless, trying to explain the fervor and passion of the day (as well as the obscene sums spent) to the uninitiated wasn't easy. "My girlfriend thinks I'm silly for coming here," said William Chase of Massachusetts, who picked up some phaser rifles. "She said, 'I don't want to know what you bought, but I'm happy you're happy.'"
As the Star Trek franchise transitions into an unknown future, it appears the faithful are as strong as ever. "I've never been to a convention," said Troyer, the North Carolina doctor. "And I've never been to an auction. It's just something I grew up with and this is actually a chance to own history. A history set in the future, at that.
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