A white, Teflon-coated jacket worn by astronaut Buzz Aldrin during the 1969 Apollo 11 mission to the moon sold for $2.7 million at a Sotheby’s auction Tuesday, the highest price among dozens of rare memorabilia belonging to his Trace careers in space exploration.
Mr. Aldrin, now 92, has had a busy career as an astronaut, joining NASA in 1963 after flying for the Air Force. Within three years, he had completed the world’s first successful spacewalk on the Gemini 12 mission. Then, on July 20, 1969, millions of people watched on television as he became the second man to walk on the moon, some 20 minutes after Neil Armstrong, who described it as “a giant leap for mankind.”
The custom-made jacket Mr. Aldrin wore on that mission sold after nine minutes of vigorous bidding, and the auctioneer called it “the most valuable American spacecraft artifact ever sold at auction.” (The clothing worn by the other two Apollo 11 astronauts on that mission belong to the Smithsonian.)
A total of 68 of 69 lots of Mr. Aldrin’s belongings were sold Tuesday by Sotheby’s in Manhattan for a total of $8 million at an auction that lasted more than two hours.
Derek Parsons, a spokesman for Sotheby’s, said the sale of Buzz Aldrin was the “most valuable single space exploration auction ever held”. It broke a record set by an auction of items belonging to Mr Armstrong, who died in 2012, but the other astronaut’s overall collection still holds the overall record.
The most coveted artifacts sold Tuesday traveled to the moon and back more than five decades ago. A complete Apollo mission summary flight plan sold for $819,000.
Only one lot didn’t sell: it contained the tiny broken circuit switch that nearly stranded the Apollo 11 crew on the moon, and a dented aluminum pin that Mr. Aldrin used as a manual workaround to reach launch. Bids stagnated at $650,000, well below the auction’s estimate of $1 million.
Mr Aldrin said in a statement that “it felt right to share these items with the world, which for many are symbols of a historical moment but have always remained for me personal reminders of a life devoted to science and exploration.” is.”
Also among the auctioned items were gold-colored major league baseball lifetime passes for $7,560 and an MTV Video Music Awards statuette modeled after the iconic image of Mr. Aldrin placing the American flag on the surface of the moon, the Grossed $88,200.
A Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award, presented to Mr. Aldrin by Richard M. Nixon sold for $277,200. These medals don’t appear frequently at auction, Mr. Parsons said.
There was also a December 10, 1973 letter written by Mr. Armstrong that cost $21,420. In it he tried to dissuade Mr. Aldrin from making his memoir a film: “I can’t think of any biography of a living person that has ever been made into a good, quality film.”
Mr. Aldrin was not convinced. The biopic aired three years later.
While that film was not a critical success, Mr. Aldrin inspired the name for Buzz Lightyear, the Pixar animated character from the Toy Story films.
Ten of the 69 lots in the auction came with an NFT, a unique digital identifier for authenticity. Others, like flight plans with a checklist of items to be taken into space — helmet, tissues, even snacks — were labeled with Mr. Aldrin’s signature and the phrase “Floated to the moon.”
“Before, it was kind of a touch-and-go situation,” Ms Hatton said. “People were selling things and there really wasn’t any clarity. So there was always this kind of fear that NASA might step in and shut down an auction.”
A 2018 audit by the Space Agency’s Inspector General found that NASA’s inconsistent record-keeping had resulted in the loss of a “significant amount” of its property.
In June, NASA lawyers intervened in the sale of dead cockroaches that had ingested lunar dust. Before the sale stopped, the bid for the insect trio had reached $40,000.
Now Sotheby’s room sales are the most popular category, attracting a wide audience of bidders, Ms Hatton said, adding that the price ranges made the items more accessible than other valuables, such as souvenirs. B. Art. The auction house has previously sold items owned by other astronauts, including a small white bag Mr. Armstrong used to collect lunar rock samples, which fetched $1.8 million in 2017.
Ms Hatton said she believes the fascination with space artifacts and missions to the moon, the last in 1972, will endure because of the importance of these discoveries in human history.
“It’s a moment that reminds us all of what we can do,” she said. “We can achieve the near impossible, just as we can escape our fate of being stuck on this planet. We can do amazing things.”