The first model of the USS Enterprise ever used in shooting the original Star Trek series may have surfaced after going missing decades ago.

An eBay listing of a 3-foot model of the Enterprise appeared early last week and named a starting bid of $1,000. The listing was removed hours after it went up after enthusiasts on social media and forums discovered it and pieced together what it likely was. Some of those enthusiasts said in the private Facebook group “Star Trek Prop Makers & Collectors” that they had contacted the seller suggesting it be returned to its rightful owners, which many believe to be the estate of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry.

On Thursday evening, Rod Roddenberry, son of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry and steward of the Roddenberry estate, shared a message on Facebook expressing a desire to get in touch with the seller to see about the model’s return. That post has since become inaccessible, but a nearly identical one appeared on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Friday afternoon. He wrote:

Super excited someone discovered this treasure! It would mean a lot to talk with whomever is selling/in possession of the 3′ Enterprise. Appreciate anyone who can put me in touch, and connect us! Engage!

Ars reached out to the Roddenberry estate but was not given a public comment. We also contacted the eBay seller who listed the model, but they declined to identify themselves or explain how they came to acquire it.

“All I can say is that it’s out of my hands and with a proper team,” they wrote. They declined to elaborate further.

Even though the future fate of the model is uncertain, the username for the account and its other listings suggest that it specializes in selling artifacts found in storage lockers that end up without an owner, either due to failure to pay, abandonment, or death, perhaps giving a hint as to how the model was found.

At first, there was a lot of speculation about whether this was the genuine, long-lost model—and all evidence points to this being an authentic find.

The model mystery

Enthusiasts have done extensive research into this and other props used in the series, documenting details about them, the stories behind them, and where they have ended up over the years.

The model was made by prop-maker Richard Datin Jr. under the direction of Star Trek series creator Gene Roddenberry in the preproduction phase of the series before it even had a full series order. It preceded an 11-foot model that was used for most of the shots in the series. However, the 3-footer was used for the opening credits sequence and all but one of the shots of the enterprise in the series’ pilot, because the 11-foot version was not ready in time for shooting. It was also used sporadically in other shots in later episodes, including one where it actually acted as a model of the Enterprise sitting on a table.

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