Photo via @blastpoints/ Instagram

The world’s largest private ‘Star Wars’ collection reels from heartless inside-job theft

One collector seems to have turned to the Dark Side.


Tess Cagle

Internet Culture

Published Jun 5, 2017   Updated May 23, 2021, 4:11 am CDT

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.

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.”

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*First Published: Jun 5, 2017, 4:12 pm CDT