Lost Original USS Enterprise Model From ‘Star Trek’ Returned To Gene Roddenberry’s Son

We have a nice update on a story from late last year about what appeared to be the original model for the USS Enterprise showing up in an online auction after being lost for decades. That model has now been authenticated and returned to the Roddenberry family.

Star Trek mystery solved

In 1977, the first shooting model of the U.S.S. Enterprise from Star Trek: The Original Series went missing. The 3-foot model used for the first Star Trek pilot (and for the credits used for the entire series) had been given to Roddenberry after it was replaced by an 11-foot model. That larger model is in the Smithsonian, but the 3-foot model sat on Roddenberry’s desk until it went missing after being loaned to an effects house during the making of Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

The model appeared to have gone up for auction on eBay late last year, but was quickly taken down. At that time Eugene Roddenberry Jr. was working to get the model authenticated and returned to the family. And that has now happened.

The model sat on Gene Roddenberry’s desk for years

The model’s return was facilitated by Heritage Auctions. Last fall, an individual discovered the long-lost model and brought it to Heritage for authentication. Heritage then reached out to Roddenberry Jr. to coordinate the return of the Enterprise. “Once our team of experts concluded it was the real thing, we contacted Rod because we wanted to get the model back to where it belonged,” Maddalena says in a statement. “We’re thrilled the Enterprise is finally in dry dock.”

Last Saturday, Heritage Auctions Executive Vice President Joe Maddalena returned the 3-foot-long model Gene Roddenberry’s son. The handoff occurred at Heritage Auctions’ Beverly Hills location, where the Enterprise was stored for safekeeping.

Joe Maddelana of Heritage Auctions with Eugene “Rod” Roddenberry (Josh David Jordan/Heritage Auctions)

“After five decades, I’m thrilled that someone happened upon this historic model of the USS Enterprise. I remember how it used to adorn my dad’s desk,” said Rod Roddenberry, CEO of Roddenberry Entertainment. “I am tremendously grateful to Heritage Auctions for facilitating the return of this iconic piece of Star Trek history to my family. I can’t wait to figure out how we are going to share it with my extended family, Star Trek fans around the world. We look forward to making that announcement.”

The returned model of the USS Enterprise (Josh David Jordan/Heritage Auctions)

Trek vets authenticated the model

Like the one housed at the Smithsonian, this is a key piece of Star Trek history. The authentication team included Star Trek design vets Doug Drexler, Denise Okuda, Mike Okuda, and Daren Dochterman. Drexler shared a photo of their work on Facebook (see below).

Mike Okuda also shared a pic of himself with Denise, Doug, and the model on Twitter/X…

Heritage Auctions has shared more images of the returned model so you can get a closer look…

For more details on the model and its history, check out our original article.

Find more Star Trek history at TrekMovie.

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Shouldn’t this have the taller bridge, bigger deflector dish, and spikes on the end of the nacelles?

Not if you look at the picture of the original model that sat on GR’s desk.

I wonder if it was modified after the pilot/intro were filmed.

From the book “The Enterprise NCC 1701 and The Model Maker” about the builder of the model Richard Dayton (written by his children), when discussing the condition of the model after it was completed in December of 1964: “I don’t believe it received any major damage nor do I recall repairing it except for the modifications made to resemble the same modifications made on the eleven-footer.”

So we’re looking at a new bridge dome, dish and nacelle domes but, as we know, the 11 footer was modified once the show was picked up so there are still going to be some subtle differences between the two.

Yes, some subtle differences, but generally changes to the 11 footer were repeated on the little brother. Here’s more from Datin:
“It was updated along with the eleven-footer after the first pilot and again before the regular series episodes, and before the second season.”
(BTW, its Datin, not Dayton, spelled it wrong earlier.)

All good, UFP!



Well played my friend… well played!

Darn Garak screwed up again.

Glad to hear it! That ship is firmly wedged into my heart, and the hearts of millions of fans.

not mine the 60’s designs are all trash un futuristic and dated

This is a lost artifact, now found. Is it possible to just enjoy the moment, even if it’s not your thing?

It’s not possible for trolls to enjoy aything.

i am not a troll i just don’t like tos or most of tng
the new star trek series are my favorite trek shows dsc,snw,pic,lds,pro
and enteprise was my first trek series
but for me star trek is just another sci-fi franchise i enjoy along side
b5,the 3 stargate series,andromeda ,warehouse 13,EUReKA,and star wars and doctor who

By itself, there’s nothing wrong with having a preference for Trek that origonated after TNG. Everything you enjoy for broadcast Sci-Fi (except Dr. Who, which started about the same time as TOS) wouldn’t be if it wern’t for that piece of ‘trash’ you’re so casually dismissive of. Roddenberry is right, this belongs in the Smithsonian along side the eleven foot model currently on display, your feelings aside.
The word trash is inflammatory in this context. You may not have set out to troll, but that was the result.

is crap or garbage or cheep and cheesy unfuturistic looking low grade excuse for good sci-fi any better
As for doctor who I only like modern doctor who
I don’t like any 60’s and 70’s sci-fi and tng is boring as hell except for the borg and q episodes and a few other which are more normal sci-fi stuff happening cause it is all talk no do and the humans are all unrealistically perfect no conflicts between them at least the tng films and ds9 and voyager and ent somewhat fixed those isssues but the new trek shows fully fixed those issues
also warehouse 13 and EUReKA and the 3 stargate series and Star Wars and b5 would have happened even without the original Star Trek as they have nothing to do or even simular to it and ds9 would not have happened with out b5 as the series bible was givin to berman to use to make ds9

also the only live action tv shows that started in the mid 60’s and early 70’s are non sci-fi shows like gilligan’s island and mchale’s navy and hogan’s heroes and Hawaii five-0 and m*a*s*h and the monkees

Oh classic Doctor Who is always fun to watch.

But to refer to it as trash is a bit over the top and rude.

You’re talking to a child, don’t waste your time.

Clearly the only taste you have is for the magic nose sculptures you eat off the bottom of your night table.
I’m sure your only measure of scifi is for the sparkly effects and weak story lines that are easy to follow and predict just by the episode preview.

If you look at michelle’s other posts, that doesn’t seem even remotely possible.

I, on the other hand, share your excitement and enthusiasm.

Jeez, what a buzzkill.

no it is beaing realistic and not treating inatimate objects like they are to be worshiped and idolized i also don’t get nosolgic over anything unless it has a personal connection in my life not stuff outside my control and no connection to

Quick, find a Tribble and put it up to Michelle to see whether she is a klingon or just a human with execrable taste. Guessing you’re no fan of Saarinen or Eames or Frank Lloyd Wright either?

it is just a model when it breaks badly enough you can’t fix or it gets lost during a move you buy and build a new one
i know cause i build models i got shelves full of Star Trek ship models i built and car models i built and alsorts of other types of models i have built

You have shelves full of everything except punctuation, apparently, you
being able to construct anything save a proper sentence in English.

Sure, the original design is dated. But if that design didn’t exist then neither would the designs for the shows you obviously prefer. That designates the model as an object of some proper pop-historical significance, if not fan-worship.

Scotty says, “Lassie, don’t you think you ought to rephrase that?

Ok how about the 60’s design of the enterprise is dumb looking and does not fit visually between the nx-01 design and the tmp refit/constitution ll class design

…that’s not the fault of the original design. Rather…the crappy Enterprise TV show

The refit is different, but it was for a movie and it also looks awesome

Agreed, Corylea. Absolutely.

There’s just something so beautiful about that ship!

the visual retconed design from dsc and snw looks way better compared to the 60’s design which look looks horrible

I should have scrolled down first. Yeah, you’re trolling.

Right with you, I feel like I wasted time even responding.

No trolling this is just how I feel about the design of the every in tos

The carrot peeler nacelle struts, squished proportions, slag metal finish, and ridiculous bridge window?


The nx had a gun metal grey finish with aztecing and nacelle bussard clamps just like the dsc/snw enteprise has and the dsc/ snw enterprise has the same shape nacelle pylons and secondary hull shape and even neck hight and shape minus the torpedo launcher collar that the tmp refit does so it works better with the refit that took place unlike the 60’s design which does not fit visually between either
and the bridge having a window with a heads up viewscreen display makes so much sense if the viewscreen sensors go out they can still see what is going on outside and do not have to rush to another bow facing window on another deck and relay what’s going on outside back to the bridge

Try punctuation, Michelle, it works a charm. Also try being less of a wet blanket.

no one asked you to repeat an already unpopular opinion. To quote the original Star Wars (which you probably ALSO find boring and dated)… “Move along. Move along.”

Not to agree with her but a lot of people cr@p on new Star Trek on here and no one gets all hot and bothered over that.

I’ve watched plenty of people getting plenty hot and plenty bothered by people crapping all over new Star Trek on here.

Taking a steaming dump on a steaming dump probably doesn’t really affect the smell.

You haven’t been reading the same comments as I have then.

I have only ever seen the final edited versions of the ot Lucas put out after prequels and prior to selling to Disney that had scenes replaced and edited and everything model and cheep spfx and vfx replaced with cgi and I love all 9 films of the skywalker saga equally as well as the two anthology films and the new live action series except for book of boba fett cause I never liked the character and think he was the most over rated character ever I only watched the episode with grogu and din djarin and Luke and Ahsoka in it as it connected to the mandalorian and now the Ahsoka series as well as the skywalker saga films and seasons 1-7 of the clone wars and Star Wars rebels I also love the bad batch and tales of the Jedi and can’t wait for the new Rey skywalker movie

Funny you should bring SW up … I was just on youtube to look at the end battle in the ‘despecialized’ version, which opens with two wonderful model shots of the rebel fleet instead of the horrible BABYLON-5 looking CG that replaced it, I guess so that the camera could do a sweeparound. Pretty sad looking ‘improvement.’

Your preference for the DSC Enterprise does not negate someone else’s preference for the TOS version.

To each their own. Love the 1701, no bloody A, B, C or D (or E, F, G for that matter).

Aye. A real beauty and a credit to her name.

Nice when something significant like that finds its way back to its ‘family.’ Good little story, heartwarming.

Due to its renewed fame, the model has reportedly decided to get a nacelle lift.

Ha, I never realized the nacelles weren’t quite parallel with the saucer!

Nice to see it found its way home. Kudos to all involved…

I was wondering about this- Thanks!

Nice to have some good news for a change.

I was thinking the same. There’s not enough of that out there these days.

Great this has been finally found and authenticated.

Don’t let Paramount+ use it at one of their pop-up promotional things; they don’t seem to care about Star Trek anymore.


This is wonderful news. Only a Vulcan or Android could fail to understand being sentimental about this.

I never knew the nacelles on the original were at that angle!

Hope Roddenberry gets this a top notch restoration and more people get to see it in person.

They weren’t at that angle (just look at the photos of Roddenberry examining the newly-completed model on the set of “The Cage” or the actors holding it for publicity stills). The nacelles have just sagged over the years — the bane of the design even for professional model makers, apparently.

I had to do some hefty triage to get them to stay upright when building those AMT models.

Gravity’s a b**ch, what can I say….

At 65, I can’t say much. And I’m just a guy. . .

I’m only a couple years behind you, but was horrified/amazed to find I’d shrunk nearly a 1/2 inch in the last year, so I’m under 6’2″ now. Gravity’s a bastard too.

I’m breaking my cardinal rule about offering up some unsolicited advice, it might not be a bad idea to get a checkup on dropping that half inch. Bone density issues can lead to a higher risk of fractures in the future.

That’s what my wife thought too, you’re right to put it out there. But it was my primary doctor’s nurse who took the measurement before an in-person visit, yet nobody in the office seemed concerned.

I just now got up and had my wife measure me against the apartment front door and she came away with 6′ 2-1/4″ — so no height loss after all. Guess they may not be making nurses like they used to.

Then again, the whole medical community seems to have fallen apart in the last few years. My wife had to wait more than 18 months just to get some special ‘important’ testing during the pandemic, not because Kaiser lacked doctors and lab techs, but because they lacked schedulers. If they’d just been able to put the request into the system in a different way, like most typical appointments, she could have scheduled an appointment herself online and gotten in within a couple months instead of nearly waiting 2 years. All because she had to wait for them to call her to schedule.

In the first year after the death of my wife of 30 years, I had become so exhausted from all the changes from bookkeeping and other paperwork (my wife had just retired from 40 years teaching higher math and being an administrator in high schools and community college, this she was the keeper of the books for our 30 years together) that I began having multiple balance issues and repeated falls. Apparently no bones were broken in those falls, but I did manage to maintain my 5’11.5″ height, and began to lose 100+ lbs. weight over the first year without trying (due to my cooking perhaps). I had been a type 2 diabetic, as well as other bad health signs, but am now (four years after my wife’s death) considered back to pre-diabetic, due to dropping weight, blood sugar, and a1c numbers. I feel as if my wife’s death, in a damnable twist of fate, took her from me, but gave me new life. Yet I would stay heavy and ill just to have her back for a year. Years before, she told me “If anything happens to me, I want you to be happy, to enjoy life, and find someone to love again.” Yet I just can’t. Not yet. Oh, I tried dating last year for a short time, and hated it and myself. My heart was not in it. She was the one love of my life, and likely shall be…

I feel ya, Kev. We got a piece of good news that Christina’s weird thyroid growth has only a 1% chance of being cancer, which is a real break given she isn’t fully over the surgery/chemo combo for the ovarian cancer last year. We know the ovarian type she has will absolutely return so it is a kind of death sentence, but there is a possibility of some years yet, even though the chemo pushed her a1c numbers up into diabetic zone, gave her extreme neuropathy and cost her most of her hearing.

On a decidedly lighter note, I was thinking ‘Count Plasma and the Platelets ‘ would be a good band name, if you ever decide to make another Count Plasma movie and wanted to include musical numbers.

I have made some headway on the formation of ILM script at last, and hope to actually finish it and get an agent again this year. Maybe then, with that monkey off my back and hopefully out to market in time for a 50th anniversary SW tie-in, I can start writing about stuff that is of more personal interest again, like spaceship-bound stuff where the characters say ‘shoot’ instead of ‘fire’ because the latter means ‘something is burning on the ship.’ Getting my a1c down to 6.5 and keeping it there seems to be doing sporadic wonders for my long-gunked-up creative juices.

I’m keeping good thoughts and positive vibes for Christina, and for you as well. My latest a1c was 5.9, but I blame that on my lust for a weekly pint or two of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. I was down to 5.7 not long ago. Each time I get on the scale I’m down another 2 to 5 lbs. but it’ll be a while ’til I get under 175 again. I’m busting my you-know-what to shoot some digital video again on my film project, but I have a couple of interesting actors, and keep hoping for cool enough days to shoot desert exteriors. And I’m glad to learn that you are working on that script, as I vaguely recall some mention of it in a recent year or so. I’m making use of an AI assist on mine to help me fill in some blanks to get mine finished. Normally I’d wing it, but my friends are anxious to see a finished script. Though I’d be happy as a clam making the whole thing hand-held and improvised, ’70s-’80s style! ;) Certain lines come to mind: “Oh Jerry, come down off your ivory….tower?”

For me, the stuff I remember being most excited about is mostly the ones we didn’t get to do … I wrote an MTX: GOBI ZONE opener on spec for you, based on your admiration for the TMP transporter malfunction scene, and I had the voice of the soon-to-be-demised-transportee coming across on the radio after the initial successful teleport ,checking in with, ‘I claim this for all the queens in England.’ (years later, you were thinking of a different take on teleporation, something more like THE OUTER LIMITS’ ‘The Mice,’ and I remember messing with a story for that too, but I don’t know what happened with it.)

Plus there was that Arthur Pierce WORLD AND ANTI-WORLD project, which would have been the most epic super-8 project anybody ever tried (way beyond Lew Place!)

But for the most part, I really wish we’d gotten to do that whole contemporary MASTER OF THE WORLD film, instead of just the denouement where I washed ashore in Monterrey. Mainly just because I LOVED the idea of you shooting a oner for the ‘landing in helicopter and getting out wearing a business suit’ intro you had planned for the San Fran opening, which was wholly within my Bond-obsessed vibe. Y’know, I still haven’t seen the Vincent Price/Charles Bronson film after all these decades!

I’m sorry to read of your wife’s health issues, but glad that she is currently doing well, which is all any of us can count on. Just yesterday I was outside doing nothing more challenging or life-threatening than weeding my yard when a sudden, stupid mishap brought me within a quarter-inch of losing my right eye. We are all so, so fragile.

Yes, she is indeed due and well deserving of some TLC.

Funny, when I built the AMT model of the Enterprise back in the 70s, it too wound up having droopy nacelle issues. Now I can retcon my memories to say I was imitating the original model. :D

Seriously, I do hope that they do some restoration on the model. It’s dirty, the “Enterprise” on the top of the saucer is in bad shape, and while I can see them squeezing the aft ends of the nacelles closer together to facilitate forced perspective, I don’t thing they look as droopy on Gene’s desk. It’s in good hands now.

A couple of news stories reported that it will be restored and put on display. Details to follow.

Yes, it’s in good hands now.

And because Paramount can’t get their hands on it, they won’t be able to auction it off.

The droop is proof that the Enterprise was always meant to only operate in space, not in a gravitational field.

Perfect design. Love that ship

Nacelle droop and misalignment; a worry, to be sure….

Every lady has her own charm, despite “nacelle droop” and “misalignment”, even the Enterprise… :D

So long as it doesn’t get any hot flashes. It is made of wood, after all…

Too many innuendoes… not enough time… does not compute… does not… COMPUTE… ERROR! ERROR! Dooooooes noooooot…. [explodes like Landru, M-5, and countless other outsmarted AIs]

Reading that made me think of some arcane little tidbit from TAS, specifically THE TIME TRAP, where one of the other ships caught in that dimension/plane/nexus/whosiwhatsis is reported to be made of wood.

I don’t recall if it was in the aired episode or just the AD Foster novelization. I suppose I should pop the DVD set in — it came in a cute plastic container similar to the TOS tricorder-looking dvd clamshell sets that I keep my TOS blurays — to see.

That was my favorite TAS episode when I was a kid, back when it first aired. The thought of a hidden graveyard of spaceships was fascinating to me.

TIME TRAP and JIHAD were my faves as a kid, along with MAGICKS OF MEGUS TWO, which I’m pretty sure my catholic saturday school catechism teacher decried to be heretical. That was around the time my little league career ended and I started making up excuses to get out of all church activities for ever!

Pretty sure that was an ADF addition, but it’s been decades in both cases, so don’t hold me to it.

I love a happy ending.


You just know this long strange journey is going to make a fun documentary

I really hope it is a documentary! I would support that kickstarter!

Do we know what happened to the “owner”? Did they get any money?

I believe it was mentioned somewhere that the individual who purchased the storage locker was compensated. I doubt it was anything near the millions they would have gotten for it at auction, though.

Millions, I don’t know. The TMP and TNG Enterprises went for less than a million, and those were models with modern detailing, working lights, etc. Of course, this model was literally the first based upon Jeffries’ design ever built (aside from a four-inch balsa prototype forever lost to time), so it has considerably more historicity, but millions’ worth? I doubt it.

That said, it would’ve been a nice payday for someone.

‘treat her like a lady and she will always bring you home…’

I have friends who worked on TNG through Enterprise, and later PICS3. Another friend was involved with TMP 4K remaster.
They were all brought it to authenticate it’s the actual model.
It’s authentic.
I hope it ends up at the Star Trek Set Tour in Ticonderoga NY.

I’d be up for it being displayed at the Smithsonian, personally….

Either way would be great! The Galileo is at The Set Tour. I think the owner of the tour has a relationship with Roddenberry. We’ll see…

It would be awesome if they put it up with the 11 footer in a huge shadowbox, so that if you looked at them from the right angle (and added some kind of fiberoptic pulse lighting between the two models), you could get a ‘Picard maneuver’ effect live right at the museum, like the little ship jumped to warp and came out right in your face.

That’s assuming they match the paint jobs up, of course.

I doubt that they will, though. When both models were updated for the regular series the three-footer didn’t get the “weathering” treatment of its larger sibling. My guess is that any restoration will be to get the ship back to its condition on Roddenberry’s desk, which in itself will be a reasonable curation and a lot of work.

…Was discovered amongst a stack of documents at Mar-a-Lago


They’re lucky to get it back – I’d have kept the thing

Really? What would you have done with it, hang it off the ceiling in your garage?

But seriously, I’ve seen this happen on Antiques Roadshow, where someone comes in with something they think is worth a couple hundred bucks, and it turns out to be worth hundreds of thousands, or even millions. They couldn’t afford to keep it because of the cost of insurance alone.

Simply the most beautiful starship design ever to grace the screens of any size. It’s perspective sculptural perfections allows it to be filmed from every angle makes it a powerful looking ship moving forward.
Restorations to bring it back to what’s seen on Gene Roddenberry’s desk is a natural direction to go.

I’m glad it was returned…

but please fix those crooked nacelles before my head explodes!