At the auction at Sotheby’s a small bag was sold on Thursday for $1,812,500 to an anonymous buyer. This bag went to the moon and back, literally. This bag was used by Neil Armstrong in 1969, to collect samples of lunar rocks and it still contains particles of moon dust. Regarding the buyer Sotheby’s only said that the buyer is from America.
At the auction 173 items related to space exploration were sold. Offer included artifacts, photographs and models of spacecraft. This event was organized for the 48th anniversary of the day Buzz aldrin and Neil Armstrong first set their foot on the surface of the moon.
People from about a dozen countries attended the auction, around 500 of them. Bids were placed in person, by phone and over the internet.
“We typically don’t see such a full sales room, but people really came out,” said Cassandra Hatton, a vice president and senior specialist at Sotheby’s. “We had people come in bringing their kids who love space and want to be astronauts.”
When it came back from the moon, the bag was first NASA’s ownership and later was lent to the Kansas space museum called Cosmosphere.
Later the bag went missing from the museum along with some artifacts. It was found in the former museum director, Max Ary’s garage in 2003. He was convicted of theft, fraud and money laundering two years later.
But that is not the end of the story. Instead being returned to the NASA, government officials misjudged, and thought that was some other bag and not the one that was on Apollo 11 mission. Then it was bought on an online government auction in 2015 for $995. The buyer was Nancy Carlson, a lawyer from Illinois.
To check the bag’s authenticity, Carslon that sent it to the Johnson Space Center in Houston. There it was discovered that is the bag that was used to collect lunar samples on Apollo 11 mission
“This artifact, we believe, belongs to the American people and should be on display for the public,” is what NASA said when it tried to keep the bag. However, Ms. Carslon sued them to try and retrieve the bag. In February, a federal court sided with her. It was her decision to auction it off, and so she did now at the Sotheby’s. She did not comment after the auction, but Sotheby’s said that her plans are to donate some of the money to charities, such as Immune Deficiency Foundation and a children’s health center.
Ms. Hatton called the bag the star of Thursday’s auction. “What makes it so special is that it was on the first lunar landing, used by the first man on the moon to bring back the first samples. So you always have this fascination with the ‘first’ things,” Ms. Hatton of Sotheby’s said. “Also the fact that it’s not normally something that would be in private hands.”