Community reaches out to help Rancho Obi-Wan, the world’s largest privately-owned Star Wars collection.
We at Gemr don’t often go out of our way to cover bad or upsetting news. Yet with so many Star Wars fans and collectors among us, this one hits especially close to home.
Steve Sansweet, owner of the famous Rancho Obi-Wan Star Wars museum in Petaluma, California, took to social media on June 5th to send an important message to his followers. In his own words, he states “I need to share some distressing news with you because I need your help.”
Sansweet explains that a major theft occurred at Rancho Obi-Wan from late 2015 into 2016. This news came to light after Philip Wise, another notable collector, had publicly reported the theft of his prototype Boba Fett action figure. Wise was quickly contacted by collector and toy distributor Zach Tann, who informed Wise that he had purchased that exact figure from a man named Carl Edward Cunningham. Tann subsequently reported the numerous other items he had previously purchased from Cunningham, and upon further investigation, they determined that many of the items were in fact stolen from Sansweet’s collection at Rancho Obi-Wan.
Over 100 items were reportedly stolen from Rancho Obi-Wan, including many vintage and rare collectibles. The value of the stolen goods is estimated to exceed $200,000. Cunningham has since been arrested in California for felony grand theft.
In light of this, Sansweet has turned to the Star Wars fan base to gather any information about “Cunningham’s activities or items that he has sold.” Fortunately, the community has responded passionately to the news. Within hours of the news breaking, at least two purchasers of his stolen items have offered to return their respective collectibles. Though we’ve yet to see how this story will exactly play out, Sansweet hopes to “resolve this situation as quickly as possible.”
With 9,000 square feet of real estate, Rancho Obi-Wan houses over 300,000 unique Star Wars collectibles. Since it is a non-profit organization, Rancho Obi-Wan redirects proceeds from tours to donate an average of $5,000 to $7,000 a year to charity. To date, Steve Sansweet has written 17 books about Star Wars and Star Wars memorabilia.
Sansweet’s official statement can be read on their official website. If you have any tips regarding this story, send an email to email@example.com.