A complete Darth Vader costume from The Empire Strikes Back/Star Wars Episode V

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Lot 162
A complete Darth Vader costume from The Empire Strikes Back/Star Wars Episode V

US$ 500,000 - 1,000,000
£ 400,000 - 800,000
Withdrawn
Wonders of the Galaxy: Property of Various Owners
A complete Darth Vader costume from The Empire Strikes Back/Star Wars Episode V
Twentieth Century-Fox, 1980. Comprising:
Vader's helmet: a fiberglass facemask featuring plastic lenses, mesh mouth cover, and original straps and foam padding, together with fitted dome helmet;
Shoulder armor: painted fiberglass with hinged shoulders;
Jerkin: black muslin blouse with stitched black leather sleeves, ties and closure in back;
Vest: black stitched leather reversed motorcycle-type vest with zippered closure at back;
Pants: black stitched leather motorcycle-type pants with zippered fly, gaberdine shins (to ankle), and bootstraps, with suspenders supplied by Eller during appearance career;
Inner cape: very dark gray shading to black wool slender shoulder cape, with armholes;
Outer cape: large black wool cape with leather collar and clasp;
Gloves: stitched black leather epaulette-style motorcycle-type gloves, not production made;
Chestbox: of fashioned black and silver plastic, with corresponding battery pack;
Belt: leather, metal and plastic composite;
Codpiece: cardboard base covered in black leather, with velcro clasps;
Shin guards: black vacuum-formed plastic with velcro straps;
Boots: a pair of knee-high black leather gentleman's riding boots, labeled in pen to interior, "Mr. Prowes";
With two pair of black tights worn by Mr. Eller under suit, not production made.
All items housed in two original flight cases with original travel stickers to surfaces.

In 1977, Kermit Eller saw a friend with a crew t-shirt for the upcoming film Star Wars. He asked his friend to get him one, too, an extra-extra large (Kermit is 6'4"). When the friend asked if the largest size was available, the team at Lucasfilm asked, "Who wants to know?" Not only is Kermit (who now goes by the name Bryce, because he is sick of Muppet jokes) tall, he has a deep and commanding voice, and does a great James Earl Jones impersonation. Those traits landed him a gig making personal appearances as Darth Vader for both the first and second Star Wars films. From 1977-1979, Kermit wore the screen-used Vader costume, the only one produced for the film. As Vader he appeared on the 1978 Academy Awards® telecast, as well as in printed promotional material for the film. By 1979, the suit had seen better days, so for the next film, he was provided with one of a few complete costumes produced for The Empire Strikes Back. Eller continued to make personal appearances as Vader through 1981, at which point he packed the suit up in its two flight cases and stored it in his garage until the present day.

We can say with confidence that this entire suit, save the gloves, is production made, one of a handful made by John Mollo's team at Elstree Studios in London in 1979. Some components may have been screen-used, but it is difficult to say at this point. Nonetheless, this suit's completeness, remarkable condition, and excellent provenance make it a true rarity in the memorabilia marketplace.

A complete analysis of the suit by Jez Hill of starwarshelmets.com is available upon request. We want to take this opportunity to thank Jez for his thorough research and assistance in authenticating and cataloguing this lot.
(h) 76 in. when assembled

Saleroom notices

  • Since publishing our catalogue, additional information regarding this costume has come to light, suggesting that the mask, helmet and shoulder armor may have been manufactured by NJ Farmer in the UK just after the completion of principle photography on The Empire Strikes Back in 1979. (The firm of NJ Farmer was hired by Lucasfilm to make a small number of promotional suits at that time.) Mr. Farmer himself tells us that this is possible, as these three items bear a strong similarity to his work, but that the clothing and other components were unlikely to have been made by his firm. Bryce Eller, however, remembers being issued the suit in the late summer of 1979, and being told that it was an Empire Strikes Back suit (i.e., no mention of "touring" was ever made). Our condition report has been revised to include all of this new information, and, upon reflection, we have decided to amend our description and lower our estimate to $500,000/1,000,000. This lot, with its remarkable provenance and exquisite condition, is still one of the most remarkable pieces of ESB memorabilia to come to the market, and it represents a rare chance to own a complete Darth Vader costume.
Contacts
A complete Darth Vader costume from The Empire Strikes Back/Star Wars Episode V
A complete Darth Vader costume from The Empire Strikes Back/Star Wars Episode V
A complete Darth Vader costume from The Empire Strikes Back/Star Wars Episode V
A complete Darth Vader costume from The Empire Strikes Back/Star Wars Episode V
A complete Darth Vader costume from The Empire Strikes Back/Star Wars Episode V
A complete Darth Vader costume from The Empire Strikes Back/Star Wars Episode V
A complete Darth Vader costume from The Empire Strikes Back/Star Wars Episode V
A complete Darth Vader costume from The Empire Strikes Back/Star Wars Episode V
A complete Darth Vader costume from The Empire Strikes Back/Star Wars Episode V
A complete Darth Vader costume from The Empire Strikes Back/Star Wars Episode V
A complete Darth Vader costume from The Empire Strikes Back/Star Wars Episode V
A complete Darth Vader costume from The Empire Strikes Back/Star Wars Episode V
A complete Darth Vader costume from The Empire Strikes Back/Star Wars Episode V
A complete Darth Vader costume from The Empire Strikes Back/Star Wars Episode V
A complete Darth Vader costume from The Empire Strikes Back/Star Wars Episode V
A complete Darth Vader costume from The Empire Strikes Back/Star Wars Episode V
A complete Darth Vader costume from The Empire Strikes Back/Star Wars Episode V
A complete Darth Vader costume from The Empire Strikes Back/Star Wars Episode V
A complete Darth Vader costume from The Empire Strikes Back/Star Wars Episode V
A complete Darth Vader costume from The Empire Strikes Back/Star Wars Episode V
A complete Darth Vader costume from The Empire Strikes Back/Star Wars Episode V
A complete Darth Vader costume from The Empire Strikes Back/Star Wars Episode V
A complete Darth Vader costume from The Empire Strikes Back/Star Wars Episode V
A complete Darth Vader costume from The Empire Strikes Back/Star Wars Episode V
A complete Darth Vader costume from The Empire Strikes Back/Star Wars Episode V
A complete Darth Vader costume from The Empire Strikes Back/Star Wars Episode V
A complete Darth Vader costume from The Empire Strikes Back/Star Wars Episode V
A complete Darth Vader costume from The Empire Strikes Back/Star Wars Episode V
A complete Darth Vader costume from The Empire Strikes Back/Star Wars Episode V
A complete Darth Vader costume from The Empire Strikes Back/Star Wars Episode V
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