When Annie Leibovitz Met the World's Favorite Droid

By Halina Loft
In its third year running, Sotheby's Contemporary Photographs auction on 27 September in New York features several significant works by famed American photographer Annie Leibovitz, including a shot she captured on the set of 'Star Wars: Episode II—Attack of the Clones'.

I n the early 2000s, Star Wars creator George Lucas granted photographer Annie Leibovitz a special honor: with a top security clearance, she was permitted to visit the set of Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones and capture exclusive portraits of the cast. The resulting photographs were featured in Vanity Fair's March 2002 issue under the title Love In a Distant Galaxy. Leibovitz's portrait of R2-D2, the Star Wars series' iconic astromech droid, took center stage.

Annie Leibovitz, R2-D2, Pinewood Studios, London, 2002, printed in 2010. Estimate $15,000 - 25,000.

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Leibovitz photographed R2-D2 within its shipping crate, poised to roll onto set. The crate's door features a diary of the droid's biggest moments, scrawled in permanent marker: the date of its creation in 8/97; various filming locations and television appearances; and even an open house in California on 8/6/99.

A still from Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002), showing Natalie Portman as Senator Padmé Amidala, Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker and R2-D2. Photo: Moviestore collection Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo. Moviestore collection Ltd / Alam/Alamy Stock Photo

R2-D2's significance to the greater Star Wars media franchise can't be overstated. The character appears in 9 of the 10 feature films. In Lucas's inaugural chapter, Episode IV: A New Hope, R2-D2 plays the critical role of transporting plans for the Death Star, as well as a message from Princess Leia to Luke Skywalker. With this, R2-D2 became a driving force to a plot line that continues to captivate the world.

Printed in 2010, this mural-sized (37 by 45.5 inches) archival pigment print is numbered '5/10' in pencil on the reverse. The photograph is accompanied by Leibovitz's 'The Master Set' label, and signed in ink.

Bid on this and other works on 27 September, 10:00 AM EDT, at Sotheby's New York.

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