The definitive source for information on collecting screen-used Star Trek props and costumes

Star Trek Props.com The Internet's premier source for information on collecting Star Trek props and costumes, as well as coverage of all major Star Trek auctions from the famous 2006 Christie's Star Trek auction, through the It's A Wrap Star Trek auctions on eBay and the Propworx Star Trek auctions. Star Trek Props is the best source for information of collecting original, screen-used props & costumes.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Profiles in History auction issues

The new Profiles in History auction continues today with the Star Trek items at 2:00EST. You can find the Star Trek Items here.

Now Profiles was the main source for Star Trek props and costumes before Christie's and IAW. They had some impressive auctions like the Matt Jeffries auction of 2001. They have had a ton of props and many costumes for auction and their catalog is brilliant and fun to read through.

But there are also a lot of people in the collecting community that question the authenticity of some of the Star Trek props that seem to pop up in their auctions. Rumors of new props from the original molds coming out of the back door at HMS, the prop house that did a lot of work on the different TNG and later TV shows, have been circulating for years. (I should note that I spoke with Michael Moore for over 2 hours during the last PiH auction, and he denies anything like this has ever occurred. HMS does make most of the prop kits for Roddenberry.com and is very well known, Mike even authenticates props for Profiles)

Brett Jones if Federation Surplus and I did check out the Star Trek items in person at the last auction and there were a number of the props that looked very suspicious. Most of the props from one consignor (supposedly a former prop shop employee) were purposely aged with a brownish patina. A few like that might have gone unnoticed, but most of them? I know I have not seen any props so aged from Star Trek, and neither had Brett, so that was a huge red flag. The two Phaser rifles were very suspicious and didn't sell. (They were also very overpriced).

PiH also won't give you any provenance on the pieces, or even tell you who the consignor was. And since last time all the suspicious pieces came from one seller, it made for a very difficult situation for buyers to have full confidence in. Now, there were pieces from another consignor from Japan (who we believe we knew) and his pieces were very clean and looked dead on. I actually split one of those lots with Brett. The consignor's two Suliban pistols went at INSANE prices.

Now, there are no pieces in this auction that fall in the above category. Authenticity is not the issue this auction.

With Profiles problems with the alleged Planet of the Apes Statue of Liberty piece, one would think that PiH would bend over backwards to provide clear provenance. But even in this month's auction, key pieces like the Star Trek III Communicator, have no provenance whatsoever.

Examples of Shaky Descriptions

Profiles doesn't put much effort into their descriptions and puts misleading text and photos in. Last time they incorrectly identified a rifle as a TR-116 when it was clearly not. They also stick by these claims even when confronted with the facts. This time we have more bad, or incomplete descriptions.

The Star Trek III Communicator's, history is in question, even according to Profiles. PiH claims it comes from an associate of Jein's (unnamed) and that it was made at the same time as the others for Star Trek III, but wasn't made for the production. Sounds like some prop guy made an extra one for himself.

The Star Trek III Phaser is NOT the one Profiles claims. They claim it was used by Kirk in the final scenes on the Genesis Planet, but the one Kirk is holding has flashing lights and this one does not.

The Static Starfleet PADD is claimed to be from First Contact, but it is clearly NOT. In fact Trek expert Jorg can't find this PADD ever being used. It is in fact a Cardassian PADD repainted, and the photo Profiles uses isn't even of this PADD! PiH did tell me that this came from John Dwyer, the Trek set decorator, so it is legit. But that piece of information should be in the description.


Ridiculous Prices

As mentioned in my previous blog post on this auction (reprinted below), the opening bids for many of these items are insane.

The Klingon Bird of Prey Wing Section is priced at Christie's levels as that is where the consignor won this. But market realities are that this is worth maybe half that now.

The Geordi holo-Suit Apllicator is 1 1/2" long and someone wants $ 1,000 for it??? STAY AWAY. This is a total joke. The prop isn't of any significance and it is tiny.

The Model Miniature Casket/Probe sold for $ 2,200 at Christie's and now the seller wants $ 6,000? What drugs is this guy on? This guy expects a 3-fold increase in price for a mediocre prop in 17 months? Get a life.


The Data Head Appliance snd Lore's SFX Thumb are both crazy at $ 4,000 starting bids. On eBay, these are $ 2,000 props max.


The Picard De-Assimilation Neural Link is another joke. $ 1,500 for what? A background box? STAY AWAY

Finally, someone is smoking crack if they think the Trill Computer from DS9 is worth a $ 6,000 starting bid ($ 7,200 with Buyer's Premium). This prop is MAYBE worth half that.

Remember the Buyer's premium is 20% and so you have to add that to the final price.

Frankly, I think half the item sin this sale are totally out of control and not worth half what teh starting bid is. Profiles needs to come to Jesus on where the market is now.


PRICING (I wrote this blog last week, but it is worth repeating here)

Now I know PiH lets consignors set the opening bids, but many of their Star Trek items are just ridiculous. The prices often have no basis in reality and many sellers are just trying to make a quick buck. (The Doctor Chaotica costume sold last year for $ 2,700 at Screen Used Props and now that buyer expects the bidding to START at $ 4,500!).

Someone needs to tell Profiles in History and the consignors, that the market is flooded at this point. With over 7,000 items sold in the past 17 months, it's a buyer's market.

So what is totally overpriced?

The Klingon Costume at an opening bid of $ 10,000 is absolutely insane. I know the seller bought this at Christie's and so could have paid over $ 9,000, but I bought one just like it for $ 2,500 last year from IAW. Yeah, if you bought a Klingon costume at Christie's you are WAY under water, like a lot of homeowners these days.

The Geordi LaForge uniform starts at $ 4,500 and is WAY overpriced. An identical costume with a comm badge and boots sold for $ 3,000 at Christies. So why would this seller think that it was now worth 50% more WITHOUT the comm badge and boots? A Generations LaForge just sold for $ 4,055 WITH a VISOR.

The Distressed LaForge Tunic is an even worse buy. A $ 3,000 starting bid????? Give me a freaking break. That is a $ 1,500 item MAX.

Same with the Worf Tunic, which is distressed. Starting bid is $ 4,000, but this is a $ 2,000 MAX, even with the comm badge.

Finally, a Burned Starfleet Uniform with an opening bid of $ 1,000? This is MAYBE a $ 500 item, since you can get a perfect one for under that on eBay from IAW.

All I can say is AVOID THESE COSTUMES. PiH doesn't seem to want to come to grips with market realities, and they have nothing you can't get for significantly less on eBay through IAW. These prices will never be recovered in the secondary market in my opinion.

Alec

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