Finders of long-lost Star Trek USS Enterprise model file lawsuit claiming fraud

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What began as a celebration of a long-lost USS Enterprise model being returned to its rightful owner has now turned into a lawsuit for fraud, negligence, and deceptive trade practice. Dustin Riach and Jason Rivas, who found the model in a storage unit they purchased, brought it to Heritage Auctions for authentication. According to the pair, they were given an estimated value of $800,000, and they agreed to the consignment of the model to the auction house for sale in July 2024.

Now, though, Riach and Rivas, are claiming they were pressured into selling the model for $500,000 after being told by Heritage Auctions that Roddenberry Entertainment, owned by Eugene "Rod" Roddenberry, the son of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, had a legal team that would "tie them up." As the model was originally owned by Gene Roddenberry, Rod had a claim to it, and the auction house reportedly gave the two new paperwork that changed the payment to a "finder's fee."

As reported by the Los Angeles Times [via], attorney Dale Washington, who represents both Riach and Rivas, claims Heritage Auctions violated property law, though, at the time of this writing, the specific defendants named in the lawsuit haven't been identified.

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

Dale Washington, attorney for plaintiffs

Heritage Auctions' attorney, Armen Vartian claimed this is all an "unfortunate misunderstanding," adding that Riach and Rivas became "impatient" because the deal has been taking a long time to finalize. The pair, who still have not been paid, claimed that the auction house failed to disclose the model's true value.

Vartian disputes that the auction house had a "fiduciary claim" to Riach and Rivas and believes the transaction will soon be concluded.

"This is is an arm's-length business relationship. They bring something to the auction house and are trying to get the most possible amount as quickly as possible, that is [Heritage’s] position and what they did.”"

Armen Vartian, attorney for Heritage

Both Riach and Rivas are experienced buyers of storage units at auction, and Riach says he's "never experienced anything like this."

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

Dustin Riach

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