Finders of Long-Lost ‘Star Trek’ USS Enterprise Model File Lawsuit Claiming Fraud

The men alleged they were pressured into selling it to Rod Roddenberry, the son of series creator Gene Roddenberry.

Detail of the USS Enterprise model from Star Trek. Photo: Heritage Auctions.

The men who located the original model of the USS Enterprise for the hit TV series Star Trek have filed a lawsuit claiming fraud after working with Heritage Auctions to sell the memorabilia to Rod Roddenberry, the son of creator Gene Roddenberry.

Dustin Riach and Jason Rivas, who found the model after buying a storage unit full of items in lien sale in October, returned it to Roddenberry in April after bringing it to Heritage Auctions for authentication.

“Once our team of experts concluded it was the real thing, we contacted Rod because we wanted to get the model back to where it belonged,” Heritage Auctions Executive Vice President Joe Maddalena said at the time.

The lawsuit was reported by the Los Angeles Times, which didn’t specify if Heritage Auctions, Roddenberry, or his family’s business Roddenberry Entertainment were named as defendants. Heritage Auctions did not respond to a request for comment by press time.

USS Enterprise on a stand

The USS Enterprise was designed to look drastically different from anything NASA had built. Photo: Heritage Auctions.

Riach and Rivas allege that they were given an estimated value of $800,000 for the USS Enterprise model and agreed to consign it to Heritage Auctions for a sale in July 2024. But they were pressured into selling it instead for a lower figure of $500,000 to Roddenberry Entertainment Inc.

The pair was reportedly told that Roddenberry Entertainment had a “strong claim” to the model and would “tie them up” with their powerful legal team and handed new paperwork that allegedly redefined their payment as a “finder’s fee,” suggesting that the payment was potentially voluntary, according to their lawyer Dale Washington.

“They think we have a disagreement with Roddenberry,” Washington told the Times. “We don’t. We think they violated property law in the discharge of their fiduciary duties.”

In remarks to the Times, Armen Vartian, an attorney representing Heritage Auctions, called the disagreement an “unfortunate misunderstanding” wherein the Dallas-based auction house has been caught between a buyer and a seller while trying to complete the transaction.

Riach and Rivas have still not been paid. Vartian alleged that Riach and Rivas became “impatient” in trying to get the transaction completed and that “various things” have taken longer than they would normally to finalize the deal.

“I’ve never experienced anything like this. I’ve sold fine art at auction and other places, I got my check and went on,” Riach said. “I’ve never had this roller coaster.”

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