Tech Industry

"Star Wars" draws fans, bids to eBay

In a charity auction on the leading online auction site, fans bid more than $120,000 total for 15 different props and models offered by the film's creator.

"Star Wars" fans paid a hefty price on eBay to take home a piece of the Force.

In a charity auction that ended over the weekend on the leading online auction site, "Star Wars" fans bid more than $120,000 total for 15 different props and models offered by "Star Wars" creator George Lucas' Lucasfilm. Money raised from the auction, which was a part of eBay's Auction for America, will benefit the September 11th Children's Fund.

The auction exceeded Lucasfilm's expectations, said Lucas Licensing President Howard Roffman.

"We were kind of blown away by the final numbers that came in," Roffman said.

eBay representatives did not return calls seeking comment.

The items in the auction that garnered the most attention were the two authentic movie props. One buyer bid more than $45,000 for a lightsaber that was used in "Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace," while another bid more than $35,000 for a Stormtrooper helmet that was used in "The Empire Strikes Back."

Most of the items offered in the auction were models of "Star Wars" ships and characters built by Industrial Light & Magic model makers from off-the-shelf kits. Industrial Light & Magic is Lucas' special-effects company, which created the visual effects and models for all of the "Star Wars" movies.

Scot Wingo, chief executive of auction management company ChannelAdvisor, bid on four different model auctions, including one for a Snowspeeder and another for models of C-3PO and R2D2. Although Wingo ended up winning an auction for a model of bounty hunter Boba Fett for $1,025, he dropped out of the other auctions because the bidding got too pricey. He plans to add his Boba Fett model to his collection of "Star Wars"-related items.

"Most of the stuff I have is pretty rare," Wingo said. "But this is by far my most rare item. I'm pretty excited. This is a once-in-a-lifetime thing."

The auction was not without its problems, however. Midway through, bidders received notices that the auction had been cancelled. Roffman blamed the problem on a "technical glitch," saying that some programming that was done during the auction triggered the cancellation notices.

"That was a mistake," Roffman said. "They got the cancellation notices, but the auction never went down. It never stopped."

eBay-owned auction house Butterfields has possession of the "Star Wars" items and will ship them out to bidders within the next seven to 10 days, he said.

eBay launched Auction for America in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks to benefit the families of victims. The company and its partners have waived their normal fees for Auction for America items, and all money bid in the auctions goes to various charities.

The auction company set a goal for itself of raising $100 million in 100 days, but the auction has been far off of that pace.