John Mollo’s personal sketchbook for Star Wars
A spread from John Mollo’s personal sketchbook for Star Wars dating from April 1975 to July 1976 showing some of the designs for the Death Star gunners. The sketchbook sold for £100,000 at Bonhams.

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Known as ‘Notes & Sketches 1’, the custom-bound volume dating from April 1975 to July 1976 contained not only detailed working sketches and costume designs, but also served as Mollo’s production diary with detailed entries and time-lines.

Other pages contained costume budgets, production notes and meeting notes with Star Wars creator George Lucas.

Offered as part of a stand-alone auction in London on December 11 titled ‘Designing an Empire: The John Mollo Archive’, it was estimated at £100,000-150,000 and was knocked down at the lower end of expectations.

John Mollo’s personal sketchbooks for Star Wars

A concept design for the storm troopers’ costume from John Mollo’s personal sketchbooks for Star Wars. The sketchbook sold for £100,000 at Bonhams.

While another of Mollo’s sketchbooks for The Empire Strikes Back went unsold against a £80,000-120,000 pitch, a pre-production line drawing of Princess Leia in her white hooded gown sold at £8500.

The medieval-style gown became one of the many memorable costumes from the 1977 original film Episode IV – A New Hope and this drawing was very similar to the final costume designed for Carrie Fisher and used in the filming. It was offered together with six corresponding photocopies, three of which were handcoloured.

Earlier films

The John Mollo archive came to auction from the designer's family following his death last year. The collection illustrated not just the artistic inspiration behind Star Wars but also showed the development of designs for earlier films such as The Charge of the Light Brigade from 1968. At the Bonhams’ sale, a collection of original costume artwork comprising 14 drawings on paper for military uniforms were offered as a single lot and sold at £3500.

Also at the sale, a group of over 70 designs for Stanley Kubrick's abandoned production of Napoleon from 1970 took £11,500.

Bonhams' head of entertainment memorabilia Katherine Schofield said: “John Mollo’s personal sketchbook provides a unique insight into the creation of the Star Wars universe. We are delighted that his historic work has been celebrated with bidders from around the globe eager to own this piece of cinematic history.”

The 72-lot auction had a high buy-in rate however with only 29 lots getting away on the day.