Who says the economy is in the toilet? At a Profiles in History prop auction over the weekend, one wannabe Han Solo purchased the head of Chewbacca for a cool $172,000. The item was expected to go for somewhere between $60,000 and $80,000.
As noted in the Dreier Collection catalogue -- where other famed movie props from "Superman: The Movie," "Gladiator," "X-Men" and "Austin Powers" were available -- the headpiece is the "finest full costume headpiece of Chewbacca from the original trilogy in private hands."
Continued the auction handbook:
It consists of a screen-used cowl hairpiece (which encompasses the entire head), and a period-made Stuart Freeborn facial appliance. Judging by the construction of the cowl, it was also most likely used in more than one of the original films of the trilogy. The facial appliance is attached to the cowl and mounted on a period Stuart Freeborn foam Chewbacca head so that the display retains its screen-used appearance. The foam head was originally made by Freeborn to support the facial appliances while they were prepared for i lming on the set. The front jaw, mouth, nose, teeth and tongue that comprise the facial appliance are original period pieces made for the production by Stuart Freeborn, and have been reassembled for the display. The eyes are actual casts of Peter Mayhew’s closed eyes, taken directly from the lifecast that Freeborn made for the trilogy.
Stuart Freeborn was the make-up artist for "Star Wars" and helped design both Chewbacca and Yoda.
While spending $172,000 on some "Star Wars" paraphernalia might seem extravagant, the cost is in line with some previously acquired props from George Lucas' space masterpiece.
At a Profiles in History auction in 2005, someone spent $170,000 on Luke Skywalker's lightsaber from "Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope"; in 2007, Han Solo's blaster from "Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi" sold for $180,000; and one year later, a miniature model of a TIE fighter from "Episode IV" was purchased for $350,000.
Of course, none of those props had the "actual casts" of Chewbacca actor Peter Mayhew's closed eyes.
The famous flying car driven by Caractacus Potts (Dick Van Dyke) was sold at auction last year for $805,000, far less than the $1-2 million it was expected to go for.
James Bond's favorite mode of transportation sold for an astounding $4.1 million back in 2010. However, this was no ordinary car. As the AP points out, the DB5 came equipped with an ejector seat, machine guns, rotating license plates and other spy gear.
Obviously, this isn't the first "Star Wars" prop to be auctioned off. However, it is one of the priciest. This Jedi weapon of choice, used by Mark Hamill himself, sold for $212,141 in 2008.
Audrey Hepburn's famous sleeveless gown sold for an astonishing $923,187 at a 2006 auction at Christie's. The dress was one of three made for the actress.
This would make Doc Brown proud. One of the cars used in the third "Back to the Future" sold for $541,000 in December 2011. (Hoverboard not included.)
This 1971 action film scored not one but two major sales in 2011. First up was the Porsche 911 Steve McQueen drove in the opening scene of the movie, which went for $1.25 million. Three months later, McQueen's racing suit snagged $984,000 -- way more than its $200,000-$300,000 estimate.
The "jewel-encrusted statuette" from the classic 1941 Humphrey Bogart movie was sold in 1994 for $398,500 to Ronald Winston, president of the New York-based Harry Winston jewelry chain.
The futuristic gun used by Deckard (Harrison Ford) in Ridley Scott's sci-fi masterpiece sold for $270,000 in 2009. (Considering it's not a real gun, it likely won't do much to keep the replicants at bay.)