Long-lost first USS Enterprise model is returned to ‘Star Trek’ creator Gene Roddenberry’s son

DALLAS– The first model of the USS Enterprise – used in the closing credits of the original ‘Star Trek’ television series – has bravely made its way home, returning to creator Gene Roddenberry’s son decades after it went missing.

The model’s disappearance sometime in the 1970s had become the stuff of lore, so it caused a stir when it surfaced on eBay last fall. The sellers quickly took it down and then contacted Dallas-based Heritage Auctions to authenticate it. Last weekend the auction house facilitated the return of the model.

Eugene “Rod” Roddenberry, CEO of Roddenberry Entertainment, said he is thrilled with the model that sat on the desk of his father, who died in 1991 at the age of 70.

“This is not going home to decorate my shelves,” Roddenberry said. “This is going to be restored and we are working on ways to get it out so the public can see it and I hope it ends up in a museum. somewhere.”

Heritage executive vice president Joe Maddalena said the auction house was contacted by people who said they discovered it as a storage facility, and when it was brought to their Beverly Hills office, he and a colleague knew ‘ immediately that it was the real one’. thing.”

They contacted Roddenberry, who said he appreciates that everyone involved agreed that returning the model was the right decision. He did not want to go into details about the agreement reached, but said: “I thought it was important to reward that and show appreciation for that.”

Maddalena said the model disappeared in the 1970s after Gene Roddenberry lent it to the makers of “Star Trek: The Motion Picture,” which was released in 1979.

“Nobody knew what happened to it,” Rod Roddenberry said.

The 3 feet (0.91 meters) model of the USS Enterprise was used in the show’s original pilot episode and in the opening credits of the resulting TV series, and was the prototype for the 11 feet (3 meters) version. in the episodes of the series. The larger model is on display at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum.

The original “Star Trek” television series, which aired in the late 1960s, launched an ever-expanding multiverse of cultural phenomena, with TV and movie spinoffs and conventions that a fan base of zealous and dedicated Trekkies can’t get enough of getting memorabilia.

This USS Enterprise model could easily fetch more than $1 million at auction, but in reality “it is priceless,” Maddalena said.

“It could sell for any amount and I wouldn’t be surprised because of what it is,” he said. “It really is a cultural icon.”

Roddenberry, who was just a young boy when the model went missing, says he has bad memories of it, “almost like deja vu.” He said it wasn’t something he had thought much about until people started contacting him after it appeared on eBay.

“I don’t think I really fully understood at first that this was the first Enterprise ever made,” he said.

He said he has no idea if there was something nefarious behind its disappearance all those decades ago or if it was just accidentally lost, but it would be interesting to learn more about what happened.

“This piece is incredibly important and it has its own story and this would be a great piece of the story,” Roddenberry said.

Fortunately, he said, the discovery has cleared up one rumor: that it was destroyed because he threw it into a swimming pool as a young boy.

“I’m finally right after all these years,” he said, laughing.