The bag astronaut Neil Armstrong collected moon rocks in during the first walk on the Moon is expected to make up to $4 million at auction.
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Armstrong carried the small pouch on the first Apollo 11 moonwalk in 1967.
The sale is steeped in controversy as legally no one on Earth is allowed to own rocks and dust from the Moon.
The auction is the first time a piece of moon memorabilia has come on the market, although some are suspected to have changed hands on the black market.
Owner nacy Lee Carlson, a lawyer, bought the bag as part of an auction job lot for $995.
She was pursued by NASA, who wanted to recover the bag, but a court hearing in 2014 judged her the rightful owner as she had bought the bag in good faith as part of a legal sale.
Sprinkling of moon dust
Photos and TV footage from the moonwalk that took place on July 20, 1967, clearly show Armstrong dropping samples into the bag.
Subsequent examination by NASA and other experts confirms the pouch contains a sprinkling of moon dust.
The bag got to the auction by mistake.
NASA and federal agents arrested Max Ary, the curator of the Cosmosphere space museum in Kansas.
The nag was seized with other stolen items and Ary’s own belongings.
An administration error led to the moon pouch marked as personal property for the auction Carlsson bought the bag at an auction. NASA then realised the mistake and tried to recover the pouch by challenging the sale in court.
Moon rock fetches $98,000
The judge rejected their arguments and agreed Carlsson should keep the pouch.
Sotheby’s is selling the pouch, and has put a price tag of between $2 million and $4 million on the artefact.
Last month, a fragment of moon rock discovered in the Sahara Desert was auctioned in London.
The 12 by 11 centimetre chunk weighing 312 grammes landed on the Earth after a meteor strike, so is not subject the rules banning the sale of lunar material.
Christie’s auctioned the rock for $98,366.
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