There appears to be sad news in the Republic of Star Wars fandom.
Steve Sansweet, CEO and president of Rancho Obi-Wan—the world’s largest privately-owned Star Wars collection—announced that he’s been the victim of a major theft over the past few months.
The Star Wars author and collector posted that over 100 items from Rancho Obi-Wan have been stolen, “the majority of them vintage U.S. and foreign carded action figures, many of them rare and important pieces.” He said several pieces have been “resold or professionally appraised for a total of more than $200,000.”
From Rancho Obi-Wan’s Steve Sansweet: I need to share some distressing news with you because I need your help. In…Posted by Rancho Obi-Wan, Petaluma, Ca. on Monday, June 5, 2017
Sansweet discovered the thefts when he tracked the sale of an ultra-rare Boba Fett action figure from its buyer back to Carl Edward Cunningham, a well-known Star Wars collector and R2-D2 builder from Marietta, Georgia. Cunningham surrendered to police in March but is out on bail pending additional hearings.
“I have known Carl for many years, considered him a good and trusted friend, and played host to him at my home numerous times,” Sansweet said. “I, and the staff at Rancho Obi-Wan, are devastated that he is the alleged perpetrator of the thefts. Not only have important items been stolen from the collection, but also our time, energy and ability to trust unconditionally have taken a blow.”
After the announcement, Star Wars fans expressed their support for the Ranch Obi-Wan. Blast Points Podcast, which celebrates Star Wars fandom, shared they plan to encourage their listeners to donate to the organization.
I sense the SW Podcasting community uniting & making a point in our next episodes of encouraging donations large or small to @RanchoObiWan— Blast Points Podcast (@blast_points) June 5, 2017
This is awful. @SteveSansweet does not deserve this. Let's help him out!— Dan Z (@MrZehr) June 5, 2017
The last person in the galaxy who deserves this is 'Steve good guy Sansweet' hopefully this guy gets send to the phantom zone— Twiggystar (@Twiggystar) June 5, 2017
Whoa! That's aweful. Who would do such a thing? The collection here is a national treasure (seriously). It's like stealing from the Louvre.— The Super Awesome Geek Show (@AwesomeGeekShow) June 5, 2017
Located in Northern California, Rancho Obi-Wan, Inc., is a public nonprofit that aims to “serve the public through the collection, conservation, exhibition and interpretation of Star Wars memorabilia and artifacts, using the collection to provide meaningful educational, aesthetic, intellectual and cultural experiences,” according to its website.
Sansweet requests that anyone who thinks they may have purchased a stolen item to remain patient as the situation unfolds.
“It is our goal to resolve this situation as quickly as possible,” Sansweet said, “and to continue to use the collection at Rancho Obi-Wan to ‘Inspire through the Force’ despite the destruction caused by one person.”