Culture / Entertainment

Star Wars Exhibit Wows With Galaxy Firsts at Valobra Master Jewelers — The Force Is Strong In Houston

How Franco Valobra Brought a One of a Kind Experience to the Bayou City

BY // 05.13.23

In a climate-controlled garage, not so far away, sat one of the world’s most impressive Star Wars memorabilia collections, second only to that of the collection of George Lucas, the Jedi mind behind the science fiction franchise. That is until Franco Valobra, founder and CEO of Valobra Master Jewelers, decided to showcase the rare pieces for a limited engagement in his Houston store. 

Carrie Fisher’s (aka Princess Leia)  personally annotated script for The Empire Strikes Back, a fully functional R2D2 used for Star Wars promotions in the 1970s and a life-size original Darth Vader costume from the first Star Wars movie in 1977 are among the astonishing artifacts that were on display through Saturday, May 13.

Franco Valobra, a renowned luxury car collector, shares a “garage” with a close friend, storing his Ferraris and Maseratis alongside an array of astonishing memorabilia such as a model-size X-Wing Fighter and a Stormtrooper Blaster used in Star Wars: A New Hope.  

Valobra, an acolyte of art in all its forms, temporarily exhibited the collection at his Westheimer store to benefit Texas Children’s Hospital. 

“Jewelry is an art form and art is more than painting and sculpture,” Valobra tells PaperCity. “Great movies are art and I like to cross pollinate art forms all the time.”

The Star Wars exhibit at Valobra is valued at $25 million dollars.
The Star Wars exhibit at Valobra is valued at $25 million dollars.

Over the years, Franco Valobra’s anonymous bestie, an avid Star Wars collector, amassed an impressive collection of art, props and costumes valued at between $20 and $25 million. Valobra’s friend is so enthralled with the Star Wars universe that he has acquired rare items, many of which Lucas himself doesn’t even own. 

Framed sketches from artist Ralph Angus McQuarrie lined the store, granting up-close-and-personal access to the images that launched Luke, Leia, Han and Chewy into the galaxy’s lexicon. Lovers of the dark side will appreciate the original first sketch of Darth Vader, drawn by McQuarrie in 1975, and the Droids in the Desert, which brought the idea of C3PO and R2D2 to life for movie executives who grappled with the space fantasy idea.

Carrie Fisher's original costume worn in "Return of the Jedi" is part of the Star Wars exhibit at Valobra.
Carrie Fisher’s original costume worn in “Return of the Jedi” is part of the Star Wars exhibit at Valobra.

 

The limited exhibition kicked off Thursday night, drawing Star Wars loving adults and their mini-mes to Valobra’s atelier for a true fan experience rivaling anything at Mos Eisley Cantina. While a Princess Leia clone, a Stormtrooper, C3PO and R2D2 mingled, guests noshed on caviar chips, tomato tartar and Wagyu skewers from Monarch Hospitality. The signature “Steaming” cocktails — Java the Hut and the Princess Leia Cocktail — were fun, on-theme touches. 

Valobra hosted groups of students and their families from the non-profit LEAD (Letting Everyone Achieve Dreams) and Ronald McDonald House Houston patients on Saturday, sharing the wonder of the timeless saga with young fans. Franco Valobra also welcomed the public to see the exhibit.  

As Master Jedi Yoda reminded Luke Skywalker, “Do. . . or Do Not. There Is No Try.”

Words to remember for Star Wars lovers of all ages. 

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