In a far, far away auction house (well, Bristol for that matter), the enduring power of the force was clear.
A Darth Vader helmet sold for £ 2,200, more than five times the higher estimate, and a signed photo of Alec Guinness in his Obi-Wan Kenobi gown was bought for £ 3,100, triple what was expected.
Someone somewhere paid £ 9,000 for a prototype lightsaber, the weapon of choice for the Jedi Knights in the Star Wars saga, which the Earthlings of East Bristol Auctions estimate could fetch £ 80 to £ 120.
Hundreds of items amassed and collected by David Prowse, the Bristolian who played Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy, were sold in his hometown after his death, aged 85, last year.
Naturally, the sale took place on May 4 – a nod to the franchise’s iconic ‘May the force be with you’ line – with a percentage of the proceeds going to Alzheimer’s Research UK. Prowse died after a short illness after living with Alzheimer’s disease for about a decade.
It is perhaps not surprising that the equipment – helmets, weapons – has cost so much. But there was clearly a huge fascination in the autographed images.
An image of Mark Hamill, who played Luke Skywalker, with Prowse cost £ 15,000. The interest may well have been the inscription (spoiler alert): “For David – You will always be ‘daddy’ Vader to me. “
And a color photo of The Empire Strikes Back signed by Prowse and James Earl Jones – who provided Vader’s voice – sold for £ 4,100.
Vader wasn’t Prowse’s only job. He was known to British children of the 1970s as Green Cross Code Man, a champion of road safety in public information films. His uniform cost £ 2,600.
Auctioneer Andrew Stowe described his enthusiasm as he rummaged through the boxes at Prowse’s house. “Every once in a while I ran into something special and it got my brain racing,” he says.
“In one box I would find his Empire Strikes Back script, in another a real piece from the Millennium Falcon, then a little further down I would find a letter from Peter Cushing.
The auction house and Alzheimer’s Research UK are delighted. Tim Parry, the director of the charity, said: “The response to the auction has been nothing short of amazing and a testament to the iconic role David has brought to life in one of the greatest film franchises of all. time. Hundreds of thousands of auction books have been placed around the world, helping to shatter pre-auction estimates.
“We couldn’t be more proud to be associated with the auction and can’t thank the Prowse family enough for deciding to donate a percentage of the proceeds to help our search for breakthrough treatments for dementia.”