Rare NASA Moon Dust Collected by Neil Armstrong During Apollo 11 Mission Goes to Auction :: WRAL.com


“Most people want to get rid of dirt, but this special sample of lunar dust is out of this world.

Lunar dust particles collected by Neil Armstrong in 1969 during the Apollo 11 mission are up for auction this month.

Bonhams, the auction house handling the sale, estimated the sample to be worth between $800,000 and $1.2 million.

It is the only known lunar dust sample from Apollo 11 that can legally be sold, making it difficult for the auction house to estimate its value, according to Bonhams specialist Adam Stackhouse.

To determine the price range, Stackhouse looked at the few other lunar dust samples that were sold as well as the significance of the historical event from which it came.

“I think that estimate makes sense of it,” he said, “but it’s really hard to say where it will sell.”

The auction won’t take place until mid-April, but people are already expressing interest, according to Stackhouse.

A controversial past

This particular relic of Apollo 11 has created disagreements between its owner and NASA.

Armstrong brought the lunar dust bag back to Earth, but NASA lost the bag after it was loaned to a museum. It became part of the assets seized when a space museum director was convicted of fraud and theft.

It ended up being auctioned off by the US Marshalls Service to Illinois resident Nancy Lee Carlson in 2015 for $995.

She sent the bag to NASA to help identify its origin, Stackhouse said. Once NASA realized the importance of the bag, the space agency refused to return it to Carlson, he said.

Carlson sued NASA and won, forcing agency officials to return the bag.

Auctioneer Sotheby’s sold the bag separately for $1.8 million in 2017.

Carlson is now looking to sell five metal pieces coated in moon dust that are still in a NASA container, Stackhouse said.

The auction company independently tested the material to confirm it was from the moon, Stackhouse said.

Bonhams is selling the piece of space history on Carlson’s behalf, but she hasn’t told Stackhouse why she’s interested in offering it up for auction.

NASA officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Other items for sale

If you don’t have $1 million lying around, the auction house will sell other space memorabilia — albeit still expensive.

One is a fragment of Sputnik I, the first artificial satellite the Soviet Union launched into Earth orbit in 1957. It is valued at between $80,000 and $120,000.

Bonhams will also sell a map of the moon signed by 15 Apollo astronauts, including Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. It is valued between $20,000 and $30,000.

If you want to attend the auction, it will be held on April 13 at Bonhams Gallery in New York.

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