Presumably to help insulate Han Solo from the breezier conditions in Cloud City, Harrison Ford traded in his sleeveless vest from 1978’s Star Wars for a long-sleeved jacket in 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back. Following his Indiana Jones fedora, it might be Ford’s most recognizable wardrobe item. And according to Newsweek, it’s been languishing on a clothing rack for decades.
The jacket, which is expected to fetch as much as $1.3 million in a movie memorabilia auction on September 20, was excavated by Prop Store CEO Stephen Lane, who traced its origins back to original costume makers Caledonian Costumes. Caledonian crafted and rented the jacket to Lucasfilm, which returned it when filming on Empire ended in 1979. From there, it appeared to be all but forgotten.
“We found out that company had gone bust in the late ‘80s,” Lane told Newsweek. “They had sold their assets to two different costume houses.”
Of the two, one was still in business, and Lane began calling to insist he be allowed to examine their inventory for potentially valuable Star Wars-related items. Lane spent hours combing through their stock before brushing up against the jacket he immediately recognized as Ford’s.
Prop Store employees later pored over a Blu-ray of the movie to identify frames that matched up with the jacket found in the storage facility. Despite not being handled with the reverence that might accompany knowledge it was used in a Star Wars film, it’s suffered only minor wear and tear.
According to the auction house, the jacket is blue-grey in color but appears to be a navy blue on film. It also lacks buttons, which was an edict of director George Lucas, since he felt fasteners would make it appear too modern-day.
If the jacket can fetch the pre-auction estimate high of $1.3 million, it would easily break records for the most valuable piece of Force-related memorabilia ever sold. The Panavision camera used by Lucas to film the original sold for $625,000 in 2011; a TIE Fighter model earned $402,000 in 2008.
The Prop Store auction is also set to feature Brad Pitt’s colorful robe from Fight Club and Catwoman’s corset from Batman Returns. The items will be on display to the public through September 20 at the BFI IMAX in London. And if Ford’s jacket is out of your financial reach, you might consider bidding on a cast model of C-3PO’s buttocks from Star Wars. Bidding starts at $870.