Darth Vader Costume From ‘Empire Strikes Back’ May Fetch $2 Million at Auction
(Bloomberg) -- A rare, original costume of Darth Vader, one of the most iconic villains in film history, is set to be auctioned this month.
The suit -- which includes Vader’s infamous black helmet, capes and gloves -- was worn in "Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back" and is being sold May 14 at the Los Angeles Bonhams auction house. It can be viewed by the public over two weekends starting Saturday -- as a treat for fans celebrating May the Fourth, also known as Star Wars Day.
The costume is expected to get between $1 million and $2 million as part of the ‘Wonders of the Galaxy’ collection.
"The suit’s completeness, remarkable condition, and excellent provenance make it a true rarity in the memorabilia marketplace," Catherine Williamson, director of entertainment memorabilia at Bonhams, said in a statement.
Bryce "Kermit" Eller, a computer engineer hired from 1977 to 1982 to impersonate Vader at film premieres, fan conventions and the 1978 Academy Awards, owns the suit. He’d kept it stored in his garage since his days pretending to be Luke Skywalker’s father.
Eller decided to sell the costume after his friend, film director William Malone, sold Robby the Robot from the 1956 film "Forbidden Planet" for a record $5.4 million through a Bonhams auction, according to Williamson. Although Malone thought of Robby the Robot as a son, Eller sees the Vader costume as a part of his past. "He wants to see it go to a good home," Williamson said in a phone interview.
Star Wars costume designer John Mollo made the outfit in London in 1979. The Academy Awards tweeted a clip of the 1978 awards, where Mollo won for costume design work in the film.
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