They say money can’t buy happiness. But what if, just what if, owning one of the handful of Darth Vader costume produced in 1979 for the movie, Star Wars: Episode V – Empire Strikes Back, makes you very happy. Well, in that case, I would say being rich is a must for you to be happy because, the Complete Darth Vader Costume Empire Strikes Back is estimated to fetch a cool $1,000,000-2,000,000 when it goes on the block next month.
To non-fan, this may not be a big deal, but to a Star Wars fan, this is everything because, this 17-piece suit belongs to the man who made appearances as the Sith Lord at film premieres and fan conventions. In other words, the provenance is spoken for. It is the real deal. The costume was created in 1979 by the Star Wars design team and worn up til 1981 when owner, Bryce Kermit Eller retired it and packed it up into its two flight cases.
Bryce, btw, was as much a legend as James Earl who voiced Darth Vader for the trilogy because, his deep and commanding voice landed him gigs where he would appeared as the official Lord Vader for various events. However, whether or not any of the 17 pieces of the suit have been screen-used is unknown. One thing for sure is, save for the gloves, the entire suit is production made and one of the handful made by John Mollo’s team at Elstree Studios in London in 1979.
Here are what’s included in the suit:
• 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.
A Complete Darth Vader Costume From Empire Strikes Back/Star Wars Episode V (Lot 162) will go under the hammer at the TCM Presents… Wonders of the Galaxy sale by Bonhams next month, on May 14, 2019, at 13:00 PDT. Prior to the auction, the outfit will form part of a public exhibition with Turner Classic Movies starting May 04, 2019.
Images: Bryce Kermit Eller (via imgur)/Bonhams.