Original Star Trek Enterprise Model Caught Up In Fraud Lawsuit

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

Star Trek Enterprise model

Star Trek has had a history of engaging legal episodes, like when Picard shows off his lawyer skills in “The Measure of a Man.” Forget Lawyer Picard, though, as the franchise is now caught up in some real-life legal drama. Dustin Riach and Jason Rivas preciously located the original Star Trek: The Original Series Starship Enterprise model and sold it to Rod Roddenberry, but they are now filing a fraud lawsuit alleging that they were pressured into selling it for less than they could have gotten at auction.

How They Got The Model

Star Trek Enterprise model

How did all of these legal shenanigans begin? Originally, the Star Trek: The Original Series Starship Enterprise model was seemingly lost forever, vanishing from the face of the Earth as if it fell into a wormhole. Last October, however, Riach and Rivas bought a storage unit in a lien sale, and that unit was filled with various items that included the Enterprise.

Wanting to make sure they had the real thing, these two took the model to Heritage Auctions for authentication. After getting said verification, the duo got some good news: an estimate that the model would fetch about $800,000 at an auction.

They initially agreed to put the Star Trek item up for auction via Heritage in July 2024, but things got a little weird once Heritage contacted Rod Roddenberry (the son of Gene Roddenberry) about the Enterprise model.

They Claim They Were Pressured

Star Trek Enterprise model

Heritage Auctions Executive Vice Presiden Joe Maddalena previously said “we contacted Rod because we wanted to get the model back to where it belonged,” which sounds good on paper…after all, you could make a strong argument that this Star Trek: The Original Series Starship Enterprise model belongs to the son of the man who created the entire franchise.

However, Dustin Riach and Jason Rivas allege in their lawsuit that Rod Roddenberry pressured them into selling the model for the much lower cost of $500,000 to Roddenberry Entertainment, Inc.

A Finder’s Fee

Reportedly, the two were told that the company had a “strong claim” to this item and that the company had a robust legal team who would tie the duo up in court if need be.

The duo alleges that said legal team produced new paperwork redefining their payment as a “finder’s fee.” If their claims are true, this would be a problem because it implies that paying the much lower amount was completely voluntary.

No Money

Beyond these details, information is scarce: Heritage Auctions, for example, hasn’t issued any official comment, though their lawyer has simply declared the whole thing an “unfortunate misunderstanding.” The original reports of this Star Trek lawsuit didn’t indicate whether Riach and Rivas had named Heritage Auctions, Rod Roddenberry, and/or Roddenberry Entertainment in the suit over the Enterprise model.

At the very least, their desire to take legal action seems understandable in light of Heritage’s lawyer verifying that the two still haven’t been paid anything by Roddenberry after returning the model to him last month.

An Unfortunate Series Of Events

As Star Trek fans, we have to agree with Heritage that all of this legal drama over the Enterprise model is, indeed, very unfortunate. Shows like Discovery may present a world where humanity doesn’t need cash, but here in the real world, this lawsuit is a reminder that money is still the driving force in our lives (sorry, Jean-Luc).

With any luck, more concrete details about all of this ugly incident will come to light and both parties will eventually be able to reach an amicable compromise.

Source: artnet

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