Darth Vader costume fails to sell at auction

Bidders at a Christie's auction resist the dark side, with an original Darth Vader costume dating from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back failing to sell in London.
Christie's employee Caitlin Graham poses with the Darth Vader costume in London in October. ((Lennart Preiss/Associated Press))

Bidders at a Christie's auction resisted the dark side on Thursday, with an original Darth Vader costume dating from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back failing to sell in London.

According to auction house officials, bidding for the lot — which included the iconic villain's jet-black helmet, mask and armour — stopped at £150,000 (about $239,000 Cdn), failing to reach the reserve price set by the unnamed owner.

Though the exact reserve price was not revealed, it is typically an amount just under the minimum pre-sale estimate.

The costume had been expected to fetch between £160,000 and £230,000 (about $255,000 to $367,000 Cdn) at Christie's Popular Culture: Film and Entertainment sale on Thursday.

"Darth Vader has become one of the most recognizable characters in cinematic history and undeniably, his most striking aspect and most synonymous features are the evocative mask, helmet and body armour," the auction house said of the lot in its sales notes.

Auction house staff did not identify the seller, listed only as a private collector. The costume is thought to have been made for The Empire Strikes Back, which Star Wars creator George Lucas released in 1980.

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"The costume is being sold on behalf of a gentleman recorded as having one of the most extreme cases of the debilitating condition obsessive-compulsive disorder [OCD] ever diagnosed. The costume came into the gentleman's possession after much tenacity in his quest to possess an original Darth Vader suit from The Empire Strikes Back, as an aid to battle the condition," Christie's noted.

"The ownership of this suit went some way to helping the owner overcome and control his much-documented condition of OCD, which had literally taken over his life."

With files from The Associated Press