October 6, 2006

Stardate 2006: Star Trek Props Auctioned

NEW YORK - It looked like any other auction, until you noticed the guy with pointed Vulcan ears. Christie's boldly went Thursday where no auction house has ever gone before, kicking off a three-day sale of Star Trek memorabilia.

From costumes and props to blueprints and furniture, the auction featured more than 1,000 lots from the archives of CBS Paramount Television Studios.

The bidding started quickly, with battles taking place on some of the early lots. Bids were accepted on the floor, on the phone and on the Internet. A captain's chair once belonging to Jean-Luc Picard from the bridge of the Starship Enterprise-E sold for a gavel price of $52,000 - far beyond the presale estimate of $9,000.

The chair itself is covered with burgundy-dyed imitation leather, and features simulated control panels in the armrests - hardly high-end or high-tech. But the cheesiness factor didn't scare off devoted fans of the show, who filled the midtown Manhattan auction.

"This is historic from the standpoint of science fiction," said Gary Sekulow of Atlanta, who purchased a pair of consoles from the fictional bridge of the fictional Starfleet. He nevertheless hailed the chance for fans to purchase something authentic, and said the consoles would become part of his home theater.

The original television show, with William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, ran for three years and launched 10 movies and four television series. The auction is one of several events being held to commemorate the 40th anniversary of "Star Trek," which boasts some of the world's most avid fans.

But the "Trekkies" in attendance didn't show up in costume for the event, as they might for one of their annual conventions. It was instead the auction house employees wearing the "Star Trek" costumes, including the ears made famous by Nimoy.