Long-lost first model of the USS Enterprise from ‘Star Trek’ boldly goes home after twisting voyage

Joe Maddalena, executive vice president of Heritage Auctions, left, and Eugene “Rod” Roddenberry, the son of “Star Trek” creator Gene Roddenberry, shake hands over the recently recovered first model of the USS Enterprise on Saturday in Los Angeles. (Josh David Jordan/Heritage Auctions via AP)

DALLAS — The first model of the USS Enterprise — used in the opening credits of the original “Star Trek” television series — has boldly gone back home, returning to creator Gene Roddenberry’s son decades after it went missing.

The model’s disappearance sometime in the 1970s had become the subject of lore, so it caused a stir when it popped up on eBay last fall. The sellers quickly took it down, and then contacted Dallas-based Heritage Auctions to authenticate it. Last weekend, the auction house facilitated the model’s return.


Eugene “Rod” Roddenberry, CEO of Roddenberry Entertainment, said he’s thrilled to have the model that had graced the desk of his father, who died in 1991 at age 70.

“This is not going home to adorn my shelves,” Roddenberry said. “This is going to get restored and we’re working on ways to get it out so the public can see it and my hope is that it will land in a museum somewhere.”

Heritage’s executive vice president, Joe Maddalena, said the auction house was contacted by people who said they’d discovered it a storage unit, and when it was brought into their Beverly Hills office, he and a colleague “instantly knew that it was the real thing.”

They reached out to Roddenberry, who said he appreciates that everyone involved agreed returning the model was the right thing to do. He wouldn’t go into details on the agreement reached but said “I felt it important to reward that and show appreciation for that.”

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