Even in today’s particularly rabid era of fandom, there is perhaps no pop-culture property more beloved than Star Wars. And now a “Holy Grail” for fans of George Lucas’s internationally revered space opera is going up for sale—Darth Vader’s mask and helmet.
The pieces, worn by actor David Prowse during the filming of 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back, is set to go up for auction later this month as part of Profiles in History’s The Icons & Legends of Hollywood sale. Making the iconic set even more special is that it’s one of the few surviving mask-and-helmet combos used during the filming of Lucas’ original trilogy.
This set consists of two pieces, both of which were crafted from fiberglass. The mask is painted dark metallic gray, with black accents, and its interior is marked with a “1” to ensure that it was put on first. Its inside features foam rubber padding, tinted plastic lenses and two of the three original elastic straps used to secure the mask to Prowse’s head. Meanwhile, the helmet is painted jet black and has a strip of velcro and “3” painted in brown on the inside. The chin grille, aluminum “atmospheric sensors“ and a PVC connection that held the two pieces together are missing, but other than that the auction house claims the set is in great shape.
“I said to one client, ‘if you have that, you don’t have to have anything else.’ That’s your collection,” Profiles in History founder Joseph Maddalen told The Hollywood Reporter. There’s no up from there. You have the Darth Vader mask—you’re not going to top that. There aren’t many of those, and it’s from The Empire Strikes Back … So few of those survived production.”
While Darth Vader had already earned his spot as one of the movie’s great villains after his appearance 1978’s Star Wars, it was in its sequel, The Empire Strikes Back, that the character made his claim as one of the greatest characters ever featured on the big screen. Widely considered the high-water mark of the franchise, it’s in the second film in the series—the fifth chronologically—that Vader memorably reveals that he is Luke Skywalker’s father.
Of course, a piece of movie memorabilia this special, especially one so rare, comes at a price. Bidding for Vader’s mask and helmet will start at $250,000, with some expecting it to go for as much as $500,000. What better way to celebrate the upcoming final film in the sequel trilogy, The Rise of Skywalker.