HolidayBuyer's Guide

'Star Trek' auction boldly goes to $7 million take

Memorabilia auction hits warp speed when a determined bidder pays $576,000 for a model of the Enterprise.

NEW YORK--The first auction of official "Star Trek" memorabilia hit warp speed on Saturday when a determined bidder paid $576,000 for a model of the legendary science fiction franchise's starship Enterprise, helping drive the total for the three-day sale above $7 million.

All of the 1,000 lots of props, costumes, models and miniatures and other ephemera from the five "Star Trek" television series and 10 feature films on offer at Christie's auction house found buyers.

The Enterprise top lot set a record for a piece of "Star Trek" memorabilia, and also attained one of the highest prices ever paid for any piece of Hollywood memorabilia.

The 78-inch-long model of the Starship Enterprise-D, used extensively in the "Star Trek: The Next Generation" television series, was bought by an unidentified private American collector bidding via telephone. The model, which also featured in "Star Trek: Generations," the first movie based on the "Next Generation" show, had been estimated at $15,000 to $25,000.

Fans dressed as the characters Captain Jean-Luc Picard and Mr. Spock, originally played by Patrick Stewart and Leonard Nimoy, respectively, packed Christie's main salesroom, more traditionally lined with Picassos and Monets, for the marathon auction.

Christie's staff members also donned "Star Trek" garb as they fielded bids via telephone.

The auction house's new online bidding service was an important part of the sale, seeing its strongest response since it launched during the summer.

Models and miniatures proved to be the hottest items, with nine achieving prices of more than $100,000. The top costume price was $144,000 for Dr. McCoy's space suit from the episode "The Tholian Web" from the original television series, which premiered 40 years ago.

A model of a Klingon "Bird-of-Prey" ship first seen in the film "Star Trek III: The Search For Spock" soared to $307,200, or more than 30 times its pre-sale estimate of $8,000 to $12,000. And an Enterprise-A model made for "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" and used in later sequels had the distinction of being the sale's final lot, fetching $284,800.

Two others among the last lots, a USS Lakota model and a Klingon Battle Cruiser model, sold for $132,000 and $102,000 respectively, far outpacing their $3,000 to $5,000 pre-sale estimates.

The stunning results "catapulted Christie's across a new frontier," said Cathy Elkies, Christie's director of Special Collections, who served as auctioneer for much of the sale.

John Wentworth, executive vice president of communication at CBS Paramount Television, which opened its vaults for the unprecedented sale, thanked fans of the cult franchise for their "ongoing passion and dedication."

"We were thrilled to be able to bring them tangible, coveted pieces from our beloved 'Star Trek,' and...they now own 'Trek' history and have made this auction a huge success," he added.

The sale was streamed live on The History Channel's Web site, and the channel filmed the event in its entirety for a documentary.