curious statement by Dir. of Lucasfilm Archives on Prequel pieces in the original prop market

Mottrex

Sr Member
"But this does give me an excuse to post this classic pic of James Dean surrounded by plaster death masks.."

In his late stage GIANT costume, and aged makeup, in Perc Westmore's studio space.

Second mask is Brando. I think the first is Raymond Burr (CRY IN THE NIGHT).

Also, I think Jimmy put his glasses on the lower head.

I think examples of 'gifts' given to cast and crew, from silents through the Golden Age, are few are far between. Proof is the many estates that have come to market, that lack almost anything from that period - to my great disappointment.
I think a lot of it was down to the person and if they held any merit or regard in the pieces they were given, look at how many Oscars are kept propping many a door open...
John Wayne kept almost to every item he ever wore.. Boris Karloff aka William H Pratts wife had a vast collection. The wizard of Oz lion suit, Dorothy's Red shoes.
Valentino Chaplin Laurel and Hardy Casablanca
King Kong Sunset boulevard and many universal monsters...
You only have to look at FJA of Famous Monsters fame and his currated museum that once was to see a slew of classic pieces from All genres..

I suppose thats getting away from the OG post which was about items going missing but FJA was probably instrumental in starting the whole prop collecting and come to think of it prop making in all those bright young minds in the first place and saved a great many pieces for posterity.

And where does the buck stop..How many fan based projects out in the world have used screen produced molds or copies of to create a further copy of a copyright protected object ?
Obviously there is the non profit side of things but its still at the heart of it someone else's work but its also free publicity for a franchise as you are an active and Free Advertisement board for that franchise/movie/TV show
And of course from our perspective a fun hobby with hours of enjoyment pooled into it.
 

blewis17

Master Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
I guess at face value, it is odd that something as important, at least to the Prequels, like Darth Maul's "Hero" hilt is in private collection but then again, I imagine much of these were crew gifts without much consideration for their "importance." Hero hilts for both Obi-wan and Qui-Gon are out there (with the latter being in Liam Neeson's possession) along with their stunts, and who knows what else.

This isn't uncommon for the OT, either. Mark Hamill owns a few things from each of his films, Vader's ESB Hero hilt is in private collection, as well as a number of stunt hilts; Alec Guiness' original costume, and a number of model ships. Heck, even I have a chunk of the original homestead set. As collectors, and film enthusiasts, I guess we all find a way.
On the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson back in the late 1970s, Mark Hamill talked about how he got to visit the White House and when he met President Carter’s daughter, Amy, he gave her a storm trooper helmet from the production. Wouldn’t it be weird if she still has it?! I’ve heard him say as well that he kept a helmet for himself, not sure if he’s talking about the same helmet or two different ones.

 

Stairstars

Well-Known Member
Yes, we may have wandered a bit off the reservation...

But, I have to disagree with you on several examples:
John Wayne bought his stuff from Western Costume and was his own producer from the 1940s.
Ditto for Chaplin from the late teens.
Except for one pair of Ruby slippers, sold at the MGM auction, the others known were kept by Kent Warner.
OZ lion suit? MGM sold it in 1970, with full paperwork, that was later bought by Bill Mack. The one found in a garbage bin in the 1990s is still in dispute.
There was nothing I saw in the 1926 Valentino estate auction catalog that was film used.
I recently went through the Stan Laurel estate catalog, of his stuff, sold when daughter Lois died, and saw only a bowler hat film attributed. A few L&H pieces came from the Western sales at Butterfields in 1993 and 1994.
Paramount held the SUNSET BLVD. pieces until the 2003 sale, as some were reused in STAR TREK. They sold Norma Desmond's leopard platform shoes at their 1989 sale at CHRISTIE'S, and Swanson kept a cut down version of her long shawl until she died. Western sold her nightgown in 1993.

Oscars have nothing to do with production pieces walking off the set. Most sold came directly from the families. Those that did not, like the Garland replacement OZ statue to Sid Luft, Orson Welles KANE award to cameraman Graver, and Gig Young's SHOOT HORSES, to his agent, all went to court, and all but Young's were returned.

I still dispute the contention, that gift giving of studio property in the period we are discussing, was the norm. Far from it.
 
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BudaFett

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Possibility #1. All high-end Prequel pieces outside the archives were sanctioned by Lucasfilm.
Possibility #2. Any unsanctioned high-end Prequel pieces outside the archives are not quite what they’re claimed to be.

Possibility #3. Both 1 and 2 are true along with "items are missing and I don't want to admit I was bad at my job". :eek:
 

Tommy

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Possibility #3. Both 1 and 2 are true along with "items are missing and I don't want to admit I was bad at my job". :eek:
It's possible Lucasfilm just feels embarrassed and wishes to avoid admitting that some things fell through the cracks... but at the same time, considering the stupendous volume that they did manage to save, who would really blame them or call them out?

I mean, this thread so far has been predominantly stories of how normal it is for things to walk off sets one way or another (at least post-Golden Age). Granted, even the 70s / 80s are straying a bit – I'd suggest keeping the focus primarily to the 90s / 00s if we can – but there is sort of a popular understanding nowadays that such acquisitions do happen, as evidenced by talk-show hosts frequently asking stars if they liberated anything.

I would have expected Star Wars to be more of an exception to the general rule – along the lines of LOTR or Potter, or more recently GOT – but I'd picture most people giving productions as huge as the Prequels a little bit of slack. Would an admission on her part that some things slipped though really elicit a gasp from anyone?

That's part of what makes me lean towards there being something more to it. When I first heard her make the statement, my immediate reaction was "ohhh... she's aware of a bunch of fakes in the market but trying to be diplomatic in not making a huge deal of it." Not to say that that's the only interpretation, as many here have suggested, but I also don't think it's so outlandish as to be promptly discounted either.
 

RBJ

Sr Member
Do you remember how HUGE it was that there were going to be NEW Star Wars movies when the prequels ere announced? I'd fully imagine a lot of people involved with that film wanted a keepsake of their involvement.

While props from the original OT were certainly valuable at that time, it wasn't like today where every time a rare prop comes up it's a headline on every news out let yelling about how " A NEW RECORD PRICE" for a prop was achieved.

..and I highly doubt in any interview you'd say " Yeah I really blew it..there's so many props that escaped into the wild. Like, a ridiculous amount" :)

Much better to say you saved everything you were supposed to , and cast doubt on everything in the public domain.
 

joberg

Legendary Member
Do you remember how HUGE it was that there were going to be NEW Star Wars movies when the prequels ere announced? I'd fully imagine a lot of people involved with that film wanted a keepsake of their involvement.

While props from the original OT were certainly valuable at that time, it wasn't like today where every time a rare prop comes up it's a headline on every news out let yelling about how " A NEW RECORD PRICE" for a prop was achieved.

..and I highly doubt in any interview you'd say " Yeah I really blew it..there's so many props that escaped into the wild. Like, a ridiculous amount" :)

Much better to say you saved everything you were supposed to , and cast doubt on everything in the public domain.
Agreed; it's easier to say: "Everything was saved and whatever piece is showing at auction is a fake" to keep the narrative alive (we're good at archiving our stuff :unsure: ;)). To digress for a sec: Debbie Reynolds did a great deal of collecting costumes destined for the trash also:cool:
 

Tommy

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
So I don't mean to discount the "saving face" argument – it's a fair, logical possibility – but just to explore the flipside for a moment...

Are we confident in the authenticity of all the high-end Prequel pieces that have come to market?
[Not just individual instances of "this actor is known to have kept his saber" or "that particular one is verified," but actually the bulk?]

I'm not making any accusations; I honestly don't know the answer, because I've never paid the slightest attention to Prequel pieces before this. Obviously a lot have gone through reputable auction houses, but a lot have gone through less-reputable auction houses as well, and even the reputable ones can and do make mistakes.

Is it possible that there are a bunch of really excellent fakes floating amongst the genuine articles? I mean, robstyle mentioned in post #2 hearing stories of crewmembers walking off with molds. I would also fully imagine a lot of people involved with those films wanting a keepsake of their involvement as RBJ suggests, but I'd wonder – without evidence, mind you, but I'd wonder nevertheless – if in some instances this could have taken the form of a crewmember making, say, 15 of something when the order called for 10 and only the 10 were officially delivered. If something is made during production but not intended for use (only as a keepsake), even by the same crewmember using the same materials and techniques, that's not an original artifact. Yet at the same time, if the keepsake identical replica comes with crewmember provenance... how would anyone tell the difference? How would anyone even know there's an issue in general apart from an archivist checking the records and comparing how many were delivered vs. how many are cataloged?

Again, this isn't necessarily the case. Hopefully, for the sake of market integrity, it's not! But before jumping to the conclusion that the Archives Director was being deceptive, I think it's worth first at least considering the possibility that she was being truthful in some way. By all means correct me if I'm wrong, but everything I've heard about the Lucasfilm Archives, at least in recent years, has been positive, so I'm a little surprised by the speed at which the Director's integrity is being questioned. I'm not pointing fingers or even suggesting that those arguments don't have any basis; they do. But I think it's only fair to address the possibility that she was being honest – maybe even exaggerating a bit with absolutes, but by-and-large honest – and simply biting her tongue on what she knows, before getting too deep into ulterior motives. Does that make sense? I'm not saying we can't have the ulterior motive conversation; I just feel like Step 1 is getting skipped.
 
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Rik1138

Sr Member
In the case of Harry Potter, I understand that some pieces walked, but after 8 films, you’re still far more likely to see a high-end Prequel piece at auction than a high-end Potter one, so WB evidently kept a relatively tight hold on that stuff overall – at least the high-value material, if not stray damaged appliances, or paper props, or set dec. It goes without saying that not every little thing goes to the Archives, so what they were really talking about in the interview was the high-end arena.

Well, with regards to Potter, one reason you almost never see any high-end Potter props in auctions is that WB considers all of the props they didn't SPECIFICALLY give away/donate to be their property. Regardless of how you obtained it, if it's a key prop, and they see it in an auction, they will go after it. Legally, it's stolen, and they will challenge that in court if necessary... I've seen entire pages of auction catalogs of Potter stuff disappear before the auction even happened.

There's a lot of nice, hero, key stuff out there, but you will almost never hear about it because most collectors know how vigorously WB will go after it.

Lucasfilm doesn't seem to do that... Paramount actually stated they wouldn't go after Trek props when Profiles sold a massive collection of hero stuff, likely all of which was obtained 'questionably'. They basically said 'If it's already out there, we aren't going after it.'

Sometimes it happens once in a while (I know Paramount went after a hero Titanic prop a few years back, and Lucasfilm went after an R2 head that someone claimed was 'thrown away'...)

So sometimes it's hit-or-miss, but I think Potter props are pretty much guaranteed to cause you trouble if you try to sell them publicly...
 

joberg

Legendary Member
Yep; that R2 head was discovered at auction by one of our member (don't remember who:() and he sounded the alarm at LFL if my memory serves me well.
As for a prop maker making a bunch of copies from the original mold...you'll have to make sure that your supply/budget of resin is not going overboard on that particular job/production. Could be suspicious to have to order more stuff :unsure: The best way to do it is to make one copy and go home with it and pour some silicone around that one. Bingo!;)
 

thd9791

Master Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
I have definitely seen casts of lightsabers in profiles that match casts that have been sold or traded through private hands. Some are listed for tens of thousands and in private we’re talking a few hundred. They definitely came from the same mold, but that’s all I know. If the famous auction has authenticity then that means more came out of those molds than just that one, or a cast was recast, but usually you can tell because details can disappear, if that makes sense. Even though auctions usually make it seem like it’s a rare item, I have always assumed that’s not the case.

As for metal hero props that disappear I have no idea. If lucasfilm did actually hunt down some missing items (and we can see them) that would be amazing.
 

BRRogers

Master Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Did anyone feel like the TPM maul saber (although bearing similar hallmarks) did *not* resemble the casting they compared in the video from the archives photos?

Definitely from the same original piece but not the same cast imo
 

Tommy

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Did anyone feel like the TPM maul saber (although bearing similar hallmarks) did *not* resemble the casting they compared in the video from the archives photos?

Definitely from the same original piece but not the same cast imo
Sorry if I'm missing the obvious, but are you meaning the "hero" that Propstore sold last year, or a different auction? And which video?
 

Mottrex

Sr Member
Yes, we may have wandered a bit off the reservation...

But, I have to disagree with you on several examples:
John Wayne bought his stuff from Western Costume and was his own producer from the 1940s.
Ditto for Chaplin from the late teens.
Except for one pair of Ruby slippers, sold at the MGM auction, the others known were kept by Kent Warner.
OZ lion suit? MGM sold it in 1970, with full paperwork, that was later bought by Bill Mack. The one found in a garbage bin in the 1990s is still in dispute.
There was nothing I saw in the 1926 Valentino estate auction catalog that was film used.
I recently went through the Stan Laurel estate catalog, of his stuff, sold when daughter Lois died, and saw only a bowler hat film attributed. A few L&H pieces came from the Western sales at Butterfields in 1993 and 1994.
Paramount held the SUNSET BLVD. pieces until the 2003 sale, as some were reused in STAR TREK. They sold Norma Desmond's leopard platform shoes at their 1989 sale at CHRISTIE'S, and Swanson kept a cut down version of her long shawl until she died. Western sold her nightgown in 1993.

Oscars have nothing to do with production pieces walking off the set. Most sold came directly from the families. Those that did not, like the Garland replacement OZ statue to Sid Luft, Orson Welles KANE award to cameraman Graver, and Gig Young's SHOOT HORSES, to his agent, all went to court, and all but Young's were returned.

I still dispute the contention, that gift giving of studio property in the period we are discussing, was the norm. Far from it.
Hi I think you may have missed my point I was replying to your lack of Old props comment.
The Oscar reference was more regarding the owner not a lead weight statue, although I hear there are quite a few copies out in the wild :p

I totally agree about prop giving.. but there are some actors who have it written into a contract to keep their entire wardrobe which in itself could be seen as a costume of a character played..
But thats a little off topic or is it ?

I wonder if this recording/conversation not having heard it could be related to the Film Museum in LA involving Movies/props and making sure they have Real deal props ?
 
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joberg

Legendary Member
The Lucas Museum will open in 2025...Mottrex could be on to something ;) Because most of LFL archives/props/models will be there for the public to see.
Soooo...
 

Tommy

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
I wonder if this recording/conversation not having heard it could be related to the Film Museum in LA involving Movies/props and making sure they have Real deal props ?
The Lucas Museum will open in 2025...Mottrex could be on to something ;) Because most of LFL archives/props/models will be there for the public to see.
Soooo...
They were not yet discussing the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art at the referenced point in the conversation, but they did get into that a bit later on, starting around 1:27:50.

Granted, the Director estimated they have approximately 100,000 objects in the Lucasfilm Archives (~90% Star Wars, 8% Indiana Jones), she at least did not deny that they may be including major acquisitions from non-LFL film history (for instance, Steven Spielberg and Guillermo del Toro are listed as members of the board), and the intention is to cover a wide range of other visual storytelling forms beyond the “Cinema Gallery,” so as with most large museums, only a small fraction of the Star Wars props/models in the Archives will be on display at any given time. I'd imagine there ought to be more than we've seen in touring exhibitions thus far, but it's not going to be The Star Wars Museum, as many of us understandably assumed at the outset.

I guess I’m not entirely clear how this potentially connects… not saying that it can't; I'm just missing what you're getting at.

What might this mean regarding the Director's statement on collecting from the Prequels?
 

Mottrex

Sr Member
I guess I’m not entirely clear how this potentially connects… not saying that it can't; I'm just missing what you're getting at.

What might this mean regarding the Director's statement on collecting from the Prequels?
If it is in connection and I say only if.. then being a Passion project it would make sense to want to make sure they have not only the very best of Props/Objects but also no affiliation to a murky or dubious past..
 

Tommy

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
If it is in connection and I say only if.. then being a Passion project it would make sense to want to make sure they have not only the very best of Props/Objects but also no affiliation to a murky or dubious past..
Ah, I think I get what you mean - providing assurance to prospective visitors that any Prequel pieces they see on display will have immaculate provenance because they've all been in Lucasfilm's unbroken custody?

It's possible. Though given the stupendous volume they're known to have saved, I'll be shocked if they even consider placing on display anything with a questionable background. Why would they need to, when they have enough unquestioned material to fill several museums? But, as with most of the theories we've proposed, I must admit it's hard to definitively rule anything out when all we have to go on is a mere five sentences.
 

Mottrex

Sr Member
Ah, I think I get what you mean - providing assurance to prospective visitors that any Prequel pieces they see on display will have immaculate provenance because they've all been in Lucasfilm's unbroken custody?

It's possible. Though given the stupendous volume they're known to have saved, I'll be shocked if they even consider placing on display anything with a questionable background. Why would they need to, when they have enough unquestioned material to fill several museums? But, as with most of the theories we've proposed, I must admit it's hard to definitively rule anything out when all we have to go on is a mere five sentences.
In the case of the Three Amigos yes they are fanatical in a good way and custodians of these wonderful items that weren't built to last but endure because they are and have been loved pieces.
There wouldn't be any consideration to a piece I would imagine or would be clearly stated if not an OG piece but more a presentation of... GT has many OG and replica items after all..

Looking forward to the podcast later, if I can squeeze it in between fixing a leak.
 

Bobafett46

Active Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Possibility #3. Both 1 and 2 are true along with "items are missing and I don't want to admit I was bad at my job". :eek:
I agree and would also add that there is a broad qualifier over the entire topic: “ Of the items that were identified to be housed in the archive, …”

I interpret what she is saying as she feels confident that, of the items they gathered from production, she is confident that none of it was stolen or walked off.
 

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