This is America, and we almost mold our lives on making money. But usually, we make money because whatever it is we have to offer has become more valuable than when we first obtained it.
Yet, I think some of those ideals are lost as the original Galileo shuttlecraft from the original "Star Trek" hits the auction block. This prop has gone from being worth $3,000 in pretty decent shape (with some need for internal restoration), to nothing more than a pile of scrap metal.
I hate to say that, because this is a piece of Star Trek history that I know many people -- from crew (maybe even cast) that have been a part of the franchise over the decades, and especially fans and collectors -- would have loved to preserve. But what is there to preserve?
The picture you see here with this column, courtesy of Kiko Auctions shows a large 24-foot prop that has certainly seen better days. Whether that's rust or simply the loss of paint on the exterior (really, the last of the original pieces of this prop), it's hard to tell. The sad part is, it's disgusting.
This isn't the first time I'm talking about this. In fact, the first time was at the end of May when I scolded careless people who destroy history. Around the same time I wrote that column, I received an e-mail from the owner telling me that I was a little too dramatic about how the piece aged in her more than 20-year possession of the prop.
In fact, she had restored it. And if you visit the Kiko Auction site, you can see video of some of that restoration.
But the restoration was never completed. And once that restoration project ended prematurely, the Galileo was left to rot.
How badly? The International Federation of Trekkers, which has given up its efforts to try and acquire the prop, were able to dig up some pictures they took just before the previous owner transferred the Galileo to the current owner. There are some weird markings on the photo, only because notations were made on the back of the actual photographs, and they bled through.
But take a look at the photos IFT has set up exclusively for Airlock Alpha. Some of the paint has faded, some cracks were forming in the outer hull, and the interior wood framework needed some TLC -- but all in all, the piece looks pretty good.
And amazing enough, it only sold for $3,000 -- which if adjusted for inflation from 1988 is just a little over $5,800.
But now, the current owner feels that this decaying prop -- on a trailer that probably can't even move, by the way -- has increased in value by more than 730 percent? And that's just to meet the reserve. The actual expectation is that this prop would move for $100,000 -- a profit of more than 3,000 percent. That would mean that for every year that the owner allowed this prop to sit and decay, she would more than double her initial investment.
Wow. Capitalism, I guess?
Maybe I am not one of those crazy collectors. In fact, I was at Metrocon in Tampa, Fla., over the weekend, and some of the prizes I was giving away were old autographed photos I have received over the years from the likes of George Takei and Kate Mulgrew. I am not very sentimental about things like that, and while I would love to see props from the original "Star Trek" preserved -- there is a limit to that desire. And I think the Galileo, at least for me, has gone far, far beyond that.
I guess I am just flabbergasted about how someone who would spend the time and money to purchase and then transport this prop cross-country would allow it to then sit and rot. And then hope to pick up 30 times what she originally paid for it.
I wish the prop had seen a better life than this. And while it pains me to see someone profit from such neglect, I do hope that the Galileo will find a far better home than what it has now.
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