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Darth Vader's original costume estimated to fetch US$2m at auction

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The suit - which includes Darth Vader's infamous black helmet, capes and gloves - was worn in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.

New York

A RARE, original costume of Darth Vader, one of the most iconic villains in film history, is set to be auctioned this month with a view of fetching as much as US$2 million.

The suit - which includes Darth Vader's infamous black helmet, capes and gloves - was worn in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back and is being sold on May 14 at the Los Angeles Bonhams auction house.

It can be viewed by the public over two weekends starting last Saturday - as a treat for fans celebrating May the Fourth, also known as Star Wars Day.

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The costume is expected to get between US$1 million and US$2 million as part of the "Wonders of the Galaxy" collection.

"The suit's completeness, remarkable condition, and excellent provenance make it a true rarity in the memorabilia marketplace," Catherine Williamson, director of entertainment memorabilia at Bonhams, said in a statement.

Bryce "Kermit" Eller, a computer engineer hired from 1977 to 1982 to impersonate Vader at film premieres, fan conventions and the 1978 Academy Awards, owns the suit.

He has kept it stored in his garage since his days pretending to be Luke Skywalker's father.

Mr Eller decided to sell the costume after his friend, film director William Malone, sold Robby the Robot from the 1956 film Forbidden Planet for a record US$5.4 million through a Bonhams auction, according to Ms Williamson.

Although Mr Malone thought of Robby the Robot as a son, Mr Eller sees the Darth Vader costume as a part of his past.

"He wants to see it go to a good home," Ms Williamson said in a phone interview.

Star Wars costume designer John Mollo made the outfit in London in 1979. The Academy Awards tweeted a clip of the 1978 awards, where he won for best costume design work in the film. BLOOMBERG