It’s no secret that props and costumes from TV shows can sell for big money, at least to the right collectors. But for the actors who wore those costumes or handled those props on set, it’s often surprising exactly which items get attention from the fans. In the case of Star Trek: The Next Generation, there is one particular prop sale that really amused Patrick Stewart. Read on to get the details.
Patrick Stewart Was Interviewed for a Auction Documentary
In one segment from Star Trek: Beyond the Final Frontier, which can be viewed above, Star Trek fans get an inside look at the Christie’s auction of memorabilia from the Trek shows and movies. Variety notes that the special originally aired in 2007 on the History Channel.
One of the smaller lots was a prop flute, used onscreen by Captain Picard in “The Inner Light”.
By our count, Stewart chuckles for about seven seconds in the video above, before being able to regain control of himself. His amusement at the final price paid for this piece of Star Trek: The Next Generation history comes down to one simple fact about the prop:
“It doesn’t play,” Stewart confesses to the camera in the documentary interview, after clearing his throat.” It’s not a real flute.”
Apparently, the idea of spending $40,000 on a flute that doesn’t even make music was quite amusing to the man who played Jean-Luc Picard. What’s even funnier is that the $40,000 hammer price reflected in the video above wasn’t even the final purchase price. Christie’s notes that the final price (which includes hammer price plus buyer’s premiums) was actually $48,000.
Given that the sale took place in 2006, it’s worth pointing out that the approximate value of this item may need to be adjusted for inflation. Using the U.S. Bureau of Labor’s inflation calculator, we estimate the adjusted price in modern currency would be around $62,000.
Learn more about how the original prop flute was created in the video above.
As previously mentioned, the Ressikan flute was first featured in “The Inner Light”. It was also seen onscreen in “Lessons” and “A Fistful of Datas”, the latter of which often makes TNG “best-of” lists of funny episodes and great holodeck episodes. Jean-Luc Picard is seen playing the flute, which may explain the huge amount of fan interest in the flute when it went on sale at auction.
The flute itself was pivotal to the plot of “The Inner Light”, the episode where Picard experiences 40 years of life while knocked unconscious for 25 minutes. He spent much of those “40 years to him” studying the flute.
Ahead of the Christie’s auction, scenic supervisor Denise Okuda told USA Today that the flute was one of the items getting a lot of interest.
“That’s the item people say they really have to have, because it’s so iconic to a much-beloved episode,” she added. It’s also wroth noting that Okuda co-wrote the auction catalog for the Christie’s event.
TNG Fans Also Find the Flute Funny
In TNG, Picard has a flute he sometimes plays.
The only problem is that Sir Patrick Stewart cannot play the flute. So they have someone else's hands pretend to play it while he makes silly facial expressions, and they dub in music later.
Once you see it, you can't unsee it. pic.twitter.com/5dbtyvOqjy
— foone (@Foone) February 12, 2019