Lost for decades, original USS Enterprise model from 'Star Trek' back 'home' – The Times of India

The first model of the USS Enterprise, the starship that appeared in the opening credits of the originalStar Trek” TV series, has been returned to Eugene Roddenberry Jr, the son of the creator of the series, decades after it went missing. “After a long journey, she’s home,” Roddenberry wrote on social media Thursday.
For die-hard Trekkies, the model’s disappearance had become the subject of folklore, so an eBay listing last fall, with a starting bid of $1,000, didn’t go unnoticed.”Red alert,” someone in a prop-making online forum wrote, linking to the listing.
Roddenberry’s father, Gene Roddenberry, created the television series, which first aired in 1966 and ran for three seasons. It spawned numerous spinoffs, several films and a franchise that has included conventions and legions of devoted fans with an avid interest in memorabilia. The seller of the model was bombarded with inquiries and quickly took the listing down. The seller contacted Heritage Auctions to authenticate it, the auction house’s executive vice president, Joe Maddalena, said. As soon as the seller, who said he had found it in a storage unit, brought it to the auction house’s office in California, Maddalena said he knew it was real. “That’s when I reached out to Rod to say, ‘We’ve got this. This is it,'” he said, adding that the model was being transferred to Roddenberry.
Roddenberry said he would restore the model and seek to have it displayed in a museum or other institution. He said reclaiming the item had only piqued his interest in the circumstances about its disappearance: “Whoever borrowed it or misplaced it or lost it, something happened somewhere.” It was unclear how the model ended up in the storage unit and who had it before its discovery.
The original USS Enterprise, a 33-inch model, was mostly made of solid wood. An enlarged 11-foot model was used in subsequent “Star Trek” TV episodes, and is now part of the collection of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.
Gene Roddenberry, who died in 1991, kept the original model, which appeared in the show’s opening credits and pilot episode, on his desk. The model went missing after Roddenberry lent it to the makers of “Star Trek: The Motion Picture”, which was released in 1979. “This is a major discovery,” Maddalena said, likening the model to the ruby slippers from “Wizard of Oz”, a prop stolen in 2005 and recovered by the FBI in 2018. While the slippers represent hope, he said, the starship model “represents dreams.”


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