Darth Vader: Not Your Grandmother’s Freeman’s Auction

The Center City peddler of art, antiques, fine furniture, manuscripts and jewelry auctions Star Wars-inspired art this weekend By Claire Salmons

“Death-Starry Night” at Freeman's this Saturday

If there’s one thing we just can’t get enough of, it’s a fleet of Star Wars enthusiasts. So, we’re in luck. The Vader Project has come to Philadelphia. And caught the Philly Post’s attention, it has.

Here’s the story: A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away—well, not that far and not that long ago—Dov Kelemer and Sarah Jo Marks of DKE Toys gave 100 underground artists and designers a life-size Darth Vader helmet to customize as they saw fit. The result: a world-traveling, record-setting, Star-Wars-inspired art exhibit. All of it’s going on the auction block at Freeman’s Auctioneers this Saturday at noon, and we got our own personal preview this week with the Obi-Wan Kenobi of pop-culture memorabilia, Simeon Lipman.

When you look at the goods recently auctioned off at Freeman’s—an 18-karat yellow gold and diamond Bulgari collar for $45,000; a Calder piece for $241,000; a Daniel Garber landscape for $457,000—this isn’t your typical Freeman’s sale. The Vader Project offers a refreshingly offbeat (and, OK, at times a little creepy) take on one of our most iconic villains. Artists’ interpretations range from Jermaine Rogers’ Van Gogh-inspired “Death-Starry Night” to Jim Koch’s Vader-meets-Bozo-the-Clown-inspired “Hanus.” Some artists stuck close to the Star Wars theme, like Suckadelic’s “Son of the Suns,” which uses Vader’s head as the platform for a Tatooine scene, and others took a more contemporary approach like Ferg’s “Unavader,” which depicted the Sith Lord rocking a pair of aviators and a gray hoodie.

“So much of art today brings about elements of pop culture. Star Wars and Darth Vader played such a huge part in creating that culture,” says Lipman. “The beauty of this exhibit is that all of these artists have fans and most of these artists are very young. For many, this has been a highlight of their career.”

The artist might be young, but we suspect the bidders won’t be (unless someone’s been saving up by living rent-free in his parents’ basement) because bids are expected to be in the thousands of dollars (some up to 15 large). Still some might consider that a fair price to own their very own Darth Vader re-imagined as Carmen Miranda.