Darth Vader might have ended up muscling Paul Newman and Elizabeth Taylor aside as a marquee entertainment name among high bids in the auction world. However, the galaxy may never get to find out.
The “Star Wars” villain’s costume was suddenly withdrawn from a Tuesday auction, according to auctioneer Bonhams’ website. The live auction, which could be watched online, was set for 1 p.m. Pacific time.
In a similar vein to how Newman’s Rolex Daytona watch and Taylor’s rare jewels set records at auction, Bonhams aimed to fetch at least $500,000 for a complete Darth Vader costume when it went on sale in Los Angeles on Tuesday.
In a statement, Bonhams officials said Tuesday, “Bonhams, together with Mr. [Bryce] Kermit Eller and the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, agreed to withdraw from auction the Darth Vader costume from ‘The Empire Strikes Back.’”
Asked if Lucas Museum, which was founded by “Star Wars” creator George Lucas and is being built in L.A.’s Exposition Park, would acquire or exhibit the costume, Bonhams spokeswoman Sung-Hee Kim said, “We would be delighted if that is the case, but it’s up to the museum.”
Lucas Museum representatives didn’t respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.
Prior to its auction, there was buzz about the rare “Star Wars” costume.
“If you sat ‘Star Wars’ people down and said, ‘If you could have anything from any of these films, what would you want?’,” said Catherine Williamson, Bonhams’ director of entertainment memorabilia in Los Angeles, “they would want a lightsaber, they might want one of the droids, and they’d want this costume.”
Eller, who performed as Vader for five years at various events including the 1978 Academy Awards, had planned to consign the costume, which is a complete set composed of 17 pieces. Sized for his 6-foot-4 frame, the outfit includes the iconic helmet and face mask, a belt that lights up with batteries, two capes, gloves, a chest box and a pair of men’s black leather riding boots measuring size 15/16. According to Bonhams’ website, Eller made personal appearances as Vader through 1981 before storing the costume in his garage.
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