Photo: Steve Sansweet, owner and self-proclaimed CEO of Rancho Obi-Wan, the world’s largest private collection of Star Wars memorabilia, poses for a photo inside one of the display rooms in Petaluma, California on November 24, 2015. Photo: Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images.
Steve Sansweet, the owner of the largest collection of Star Wars memorabilia, announced that he as robbed of more than 100 rare items valued at $200K.
Sansweet runs Rancho Obi-Wan, a non-profit museum north of San Francisco, which is home to more than 400,000 Star Wars collectibles and is recognized as the largest collection by the Guinness Book of World Records. In a news post on June 5, Sansweet announced the robbery, which took place over many months in late 2015 and 2016.
The majority of items stolen are vintage U.S. and foreign carded action figures including LEGO Millenium Falcon #10179, Kenner 41-Back-A Darth Vader, Kenner Diecast X-Wing, and Harbert 12-Back C-3PO, among many more.
According to Sansweet, “The theft came to light [in February] after Philip Wise, a good friend, major collector and owner of several Star Wars websites, posted news of the theft of his rare prototype rocket-firing Boba Fett action figure from his Texas warehouse. Zach Tann, a respected toy dealer and collector in Southern California, immediately notified Philip that he had purchased that figure from Carl Edward Cunningham, 45, a well-known Star Wars collector and R2-D2 builder from Marietta, Georgia.”
Tann had previously had bought other Star Wars collectibles from Cunningham and sent Wise a detailed list. Wise quickly realized that they had likely been stolen from Sansweet’s collection.
Cunningham had surrendered on arrest warrant and was charged with felony grand theft on March 13. He is currently free on bail, pending trial.
Sansweet, who has known Cunningham for 20 years, and considered him a good and trusted friend, was devastated to learn that he is the alleged perpetrator of the theft. He has issued a request for information on his activities or items that he may have sold, in order to recovery from the loss.
Miss Rosen is a journalist covering art, photography, culture, and books. Her byline has appeared in L’Uomo Vogue, Vogue Online, The Undefeated, Dazed Digital, Aperture Online, and Feature Shoot. Follow her on Twitter @Miss_Rosen.