Space Exploration auction at Sotheby’s in New York

Sotheby’s in New York is holding a Space Exploration auction that is

Sotheby’s first Space Exploration-themed auction since our two groundbreaking Russian Space History sales in the 1990s. In the intervening decades, the enthusiasm for space exploration has greatly increased, and the collecting field has grown dramatically.

Signed by James LovellL above the emblem: “JAMES LOVELL, Apollo 13 CDR”. Signed and inscribed by Fred Haise below the emblem: “Flown to the moon on Apollo 13, FRED HAISE, Apollo 13 LMP.” The Apollo 13 astronauts had artist Lumen Winter create an emblem from an idea the crew had of the mythical god Apollo driving a horse drawn chariot across the sky dragging the sun behind him. Winter’s design features three horses traveling from the earth to the moon, symbolizing the Apollo crew of three astronauts. “


Timed to coincide with the 48th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing on July 20th, there will be a wide variety of material from both the American & Soviet space programs suited for both new and seasoned collectors – from lunar & space photography, flown mission artefacts and hardware, items from the personal collections of astronauts, autographed items, maps & charts, signed books, models, spacesuits, and much more.

The star lot in the sale is the Apollo 11 Contingency Lunar Sample Return bag (lot 102), used by Neil Armstrong on the Apollo 11 mission to bring back the very first samples of the moon ever collected. Still containing remnants of lunar dust, this seemingly modest bag has undergone an incredible journey from the Earth to the moon and back, and to us here 48 years later. Due to an error very early on, the bag was misidentified and nearly thrown in the trash, and its true identity remained hidden up until just two years ago when it found its way into a seized assets auction held on behalf of the US Marshall’s Service.

The current owner purchased the bag along with a box full of other space-related odds and ends, and on a hunch, decided to send the bag to NASA for testing. It was determined that not only did the bag contain lunar dust, but it was in fact the very bag used by Neil Armstrong to bring back the contingency lunar sample. A legal battle to determine the rightful ownership of the bag ensued, with the current owner being awarded full ownership and clear title by a Federal judge — making this the only such artifact available for private ownership. We are very pleased to be able to say that it will be on view to the public for the very first time during our exhibition in July.

“Stone Architecture on Mars, Demonstrating Mars’ Two-Thirds Less Gravity than Earth’s”- Chesley Bonestell. “10½ by 11 inch oil on artist’s board, signed “Chesley Bonestell” lower right. Verso stamped “Chesley Bonestell”, titled on verso in pen in Bonestell’s hand, with additional pencil notation reading “In 1985 I realized that the columns should be 1¾ times thicker (measure closest col. at base) than they are in the ptg.”

See also Moon rock on the block: Sotheby’s stages its first space exploration auction – The National. (not actually the “first” Sotheby’s space auction. Just the first in NY for a long while.)

Find dates for other space memorabilia and collectibles events at Space History Events Calendar | collectSPACE.

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