A Hollywood Model Maker’s Legacy: Greg Jein’s Astonishing Auction Collection

A galaxy far, far away collided with Hollywood’s history this past weekend as a remarkable auction, featuring items from the private collection of the late Hollywood model-maker Greg Jein, took place at Heritage Auctions in Dallas. The event drew a diverse crowd of model-makers, collectors, and science-fiction enthusiasts, marking one of the best-attended auctions held by the house in recent years.

Greg Jein, who sadly passed away at the age of 76, left behind a legacy that went beyond his Oscar and Emmy-nominated career of creating miniature models for over half a century. He was not only a visual-effects master but also an avid collector who had a deep passion for the shows and films he worked on. His collection, which includes costumes, props, scripts, artwork, photographs, and models, brought in a staggering total of approximately $13.6 million during the auction.

One of the most eye-catching items in the auction was a miniature X-wing Starfighter used in a “Star Wars” film, which fetched a jaw-dropping sum of over $3 million. This particular X-wing Starfighter had a cinematic history, having been featured in the 1977 classic “Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope.” It became the centerpiece of a fierce bidding battle between two passionate collectors.

Not to be outshone, a “Star Wars” Stormtrooper costume found a new owner for a remarkable $645,000, further emphasizing the enduring appeal and value of iconic film memorabilia.

Among the treasures that captured the hearts of collectors was a rare spacesuit from Stanley Kubrick’s groundbreaking 1968 film “2001: A Space Odyssey,” which sold for $447,000. This piece of cinematic history represents the film’s enduring influence on space and science fiction.

Greg Jein’s lifelong love for “Star Trek” was evident in his collection, and it found enthusiastic buyers at the auction. A filming model of the “SS Botany Bay” vessel from “Star Trek: The Original Series,” dating back to the 1960s, fetched $200,000. Prop devices from the series, including a hero phaser ($187,500) and a tricorder ($175,000), added to the allure for fans of the iconic show.

While Greg Jein’s career achievements were substantial, he is perhaps best known for leading the team that created the mothership for Steven Spielberg’s 1977 film, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” The impressive model, which stands at just over 5 feet in length, is now a part of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum collection in Washington, D.C. Even a small preliminary model, measuring approximately 5 inches, managed to fetch $55,000 at the auction.

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Friends and colleagues remember Greg Jein as not only a talented artist but also a passionate collector who had a deep appreciation for Hollywood’s history. Lou Zutavern, Jein’s longtime friend and shop supervisor, reminisced about their shared experiences. He mentioned how Jein would bring model kits to entertain him after knee surgery, highlighting his enduring love for the art of model-making.

In a profound testament to Greg Jein’s legacy, the auction showcased the enduring fascination and value of film memorabilia and the indelible mark left by Hollywood’s creative visionaries. Jein’s collection, spanning decades of cinematic history, continues to captivate collectors and fans, ensuring that his contributions to the world of film will be remembered for generations to come.

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