MELISSA BLOCK, Host:
One of the largest auctions Christie's has ever produced got under way this morning in New York - 4,000 items, 1,000 lots, of Star Trek memorabilia from all of the shows and movies - costumes, models, furniture, weapons and more.
NPR's Margot Adler reports.
MARGOT ADLER: Confession - I watched the first episodes of Star Trek in my college dorm in the mid-'60s. Star Trek: The Next Generation was the world I wanted to live in. Captain Jean-Luc Picard, my choice for leader. Only a lucky moment of sanity 16 years ago prevented me from naming my son Jean-Luc. So standing in this cavernous exhibit room in Rockefeller Plaza on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise - even a recreated bridge built for a flashback scene in one of the later TV series - was exhilarating.
Cathy Elkies is Christie's director of special collections.
CATHY ELKIES: The original series bridge actually does not exist today. This was built really to spec of the original series, and I think you probably feel it when you stand here. It really is Star Trek.
ADLER: I'm looking and saying well, would Uhura be over there or -
ELKIES: Exactly. Everyone keeps saying where does she sit? There, right?
ADLER: The original Captain Kirk chair is in the museum of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, but there are rooms of weapons for every alien species, more than 50 intricate models of spaceships - various Starship Enterprises, the Klingon Bird of Prey, the Borg ship, the space station Deep Space Nine. Now, many of these models are part of a dying art form as films go digital.
All these items came from five warehouses at CBS Paramount. Star Trek fans Anthony Kresge(ph) and Luanne Ware(ph) are wandering through the collection.
ANTHONY KRESGE: They have everything here: all the props. Man, if I had the money, I would totally just go all out and bid on everything here.
ADLER: Do you think either of you will bid on anything?
LUANNE WARE: No. If I had the money, I would get the Enterprise D. It's the Enterprise from my childhood, and I just think it's a really beautiful ship.
ADLER: The Enterprise D is Captain Picard's starship in the TV series Next Generation. You can also bid on his costume, his wooden flute and even two empty bottles labeled Chateau Picard from the vineyard that Picard's family owns in France, that is in the Next Gen world.
Then there's the wardrobe room - cases of jewelry and military medals and racks and racks of clothes, hundreds of outfits from every Star Trek show and film, all with incredible detail. Remember the bar scene in Star Wars? Well, this is sort of like Bloomingdales in outer space. Again, Cathy Elkies.
ELKIES: I mean, these are gorgeous, gorgeous pieces of clothing, incredible pieces of art.
WOLF JEFFERSON: I started touching everything - oh, this was Lieutenant Uhura's, this was Captain Kirk's. You know, you get that feeling when you're right next to something or someone, with their uniform or their costumes, and it's like you're right there on the set.
ADLER: That's Wolf Jefferson, an independent filmmaker who says what he really wants is the Borg ship, a black cube so intricately designed it could be a modern sculpture.
JEFFERSON: I see the price tag's a little high, but I think I'm going to be begging friends for money.
ADLER: Eleven-year-old Lucas Menudy(ph) is standing with his mother, Natalie in the arsenal room.
LUCAS MENUDY: I kind of like the - one of those phaser rifles.
NATALIE MENUDY: You can actually take them off the wall and pick them up. You can take anything out of the case.
ADLER: And you could. Earlier this week, normal citizens could walk through this collection and feel they were in a Star Trek museum, but one where you could touch most items. This morning, the auction began.
ELKIES: At $3,500. Online bidder at $3,500. $3,800. You cannot let them get that.
ADLER: Cathy Elkies, the auctioneer.
ELKIES: This is war. $4,000 back online.
ADLER: Anyone can follow the auction on the History Channel's Web site. One thousand lots over three days, breaking apart a collection that some Trekkers might argue should stay together.
Margot Adler, NPR News, New York.