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Home News Star Trek’s Lost Original Enterprise Model Returned!

Star Trek’s Lost Original Enterprise Model Returned!

Back in November 2023, fans made a startling discovery on eBay. An old 3ft filming model of Star Trek‘s USS Enterprise was up for sale on the auction site. The seller had no clue of the significance of what they were listing, but the fans believed they did. Was this new listing the Original Enterprise Model found after all these years?

It is famous for featuring in Star Trek: The Original Series’ opening credits. It disappeared in the 1970s, believed lost for good. Then word of its discovery spread fast and made its way to the right people. Today, the AP and ABC News report that not only is it the real deal, but it’s also back in the right hands.

A Legend in its own right

The original Enterprise model on Star Trek Creator Gene Roddenberry’s desk, circa 1970s.

The Original Enterprise Model appeared on eBay in November 2023. Legendary Model Designer Greg Jein had recently passed away, leaving behind his incredible collection of Film and TV artefacts. His collection was then sold in auctions, and those sales created a huge buzz.

Many genre fans were closely watching to see what would appear next. Unsurprisingly, they were then quick to spot the listing for an old Enterprise model and spread the word. The original filming model was a legend in its own right, having gone missing in the 1970s. No one knew what had happened to it, leading to its lore.

The fans’ excitement quickly turned to disappointment as the listing disappeared, fearing the original Enterprise model would be lost again. Questions also remained, especially on the model’s fate. It was the first ever created and undoubtedly going to fetch a huge sum—that was, of course, if it was the genuine original Enterprise model.

The seller’s listing stated it was found in an old storage container. That led to even more speculation. Had it been lost? Stolen? Accidentally yeeted into a swimming pool, then evidence disposed of? The latter was a rumour pinned on Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry’s son Rod, who was a child at the time. “Finally I’m vindicated after all these years,” he joked to ABC News.

Thankfully, word spread to Rod, who reached out on social media for help. Executive VP Joe Maddalena of Heritage Auctions had also heard the news. It turns out that the original seller got in touch with them. The model was brought to their Beverly Hills offices, where Maddalena and a colleague “instantly knew that it was the real thing.”

It’s been a long road…

Eugene ‘Rod’ Roddenberry with Heritage Auction’s Executive VP Joe Maddalena. Image Credit: Josh David Jordan / Heritage Auctions via AP.

Six months later, the original Enterprise models’ fate has been revealed! It is indeed authentic and has been returned to Rod Roddenberry. The model could have sold at auction in obscurity for a fraction of what it was worth or for millions, authenticated as a priceless piece of the franchise’s history. Thankfully, Roddenberry is thinking of its legacy.

“This is not going home to adorn my shelves. This is going to get restored and we’re working on ways to get it out so the public can see it and my hope is that it will land in a museum somewhere.”

Eugene ‘Rod’ Roddenberry via AP News

Many are excited to see it too, so hopefully it’ll turn up in a museum soon. We also have to spare a moment of thanks to the brilliant fans who first spotted the eBay listing. Without those fans, the original Enterprise model could have disappeared into a private collection, lost or unseen for another few decades. And for the Star Trek community that spread the word so the right people could get it back to where it belongs.

If you want to learn more about the history of the model’s disappearance, check out Trek Central’s original article by James Amey!

Image Credit: Josh David Jordan / Heritage Auctions via AP.

Restoring the Model Update

As Rod Roddenberry noted, the model is going to need some restoration work. Star Trek Technical Consultant Gary Kerr got a closer look at the model and gave a damage report on his Facebook page.

Underneath the layers of grime, the model’s paint seems to be in fairly good condition (and is an exact match to the Pilot gray hull color on the 11-footer). The lower saucer is in very good condition, considering.The decals on the upper saucer have lifted, and it looks as though a strong breeze could blow them away. I’ve got the artwork for the decals we used during the 2016 restoration of the 11-footer, so missing decals can be replaced.

The hangar bay doors went missing in the late 60’s, and they’re still missing. The main structural damage is to the secondary hull. It looks as though the model had been dropped, with the front of the saucer being forced down and the end of the dorsal being leveraged up, taking some of the wooden sec hull with it.

Needless to say, the warp nacelles will need realigning.

Gary also shared some close-ups, which show the extent of the damage. The original Enterprise model is going to need some time and care to get back into shape. So it’s likely going to be some time until the model makes it onto public display.

Image Credit: Gary Kerr (via Facebook)

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