announced that an exceptionally rare Darth Vader costume will lead the auction of Popular Culture: Film and Entertainment at South Kensington on 25 November 2010. One of the most recognisable and infamous characters in the history of film, Darth Vader played a central role in the story of Star Wars, the epic film series made by George Lucas. The main components of this costume, including the helmet and mask, are considered to have been production-made for The Empire Strikes Back. The costume is expected to realise £160,000 to £230,000 and the vendor will donate a percentage of the proceeds to benefit Cancer Research UK.
Neil Roberts, Head of the Popular Culture department at Christies, London: Darth Vader is defined by his costume which has made him one of the most recognized characters from the history of film. The global appeal of the Star Wars films, and the interest that the series has attracted from a number of generations, is perhaps unprecedented in the world of cinema. Christies have sold some incredible relics from popular culture in the past from Dorothys red slippers from The Wizard of Oz to a dress made for Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffanys; arguably the Darth Vader costume is the most iconic of all. We look forward to presenting the costume at auction at Christies South Kensington in November, and to presenting a rare opportunity to Star Wars fans around the world.
The present costume is exceptionally rare and the helmet, mask, shoulder armour and shin guards are considered to have been production made for the second film in the franchise; The Empire Strikes Back, released in 1980. While there are limited public records of the costumes produced and used for the first Star Wars trilogy, the helmet, mask and shoulder armour from the present example have a provenance leading back to the film studios around the time of production.
The costume was acquired by the present owner in 2003. This is the first complete costume to be offered at auction. The present owner is an American private collector. A percentage of the proceeds from the sale will be donated to Cancer Research UK.