The Salesman Who Promises Investors The Moon

As property investments go, it is out of this world and is probably the most unusual piece of real estate anyone can buy, since investors cannot visit it and need a telescope to see it.

The property is on the Moon and since 1980, more than 5.7 million people have snapped up plots of the lunar surface.

That is an average of 200 people a day spending £16 for their property.

Selling the lunar landscape is the brainchild of Dennis Hope, an American who came up with the idea after reading the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which forms the basis for international space law.

However, Dennis noted that they had no explicit restrictions on anyone owning satellites beyond Earth.

At the time, he was financially hard-up after a costly divorce and he filed his declaration of ownership with the United Nations.

Lunar landscape

When he didn’t pick up any legal problems over his claim, Dennis launched his business to sell real estate on the Moon.

Over the years, he has sold 600 million acres of the moon’s surface to buyers spread across 193 countries – but none from anywhere but Earth.

Most of the buyers are doing so for novelty value while others give the land as gifts.

Not everyone is impressed with Dennis’s bid to sell lunar property, and many people have accused him of being a con artist.

In his defence, Dennis says: “I’ve never seen myself that way at all, and it’s not that I’m the brightest person, it’s just that I had an idea and I’ve followed it through for the last 30 years.”

He accepts there is little chance of the buyers visiting their plots and is now planning lunar embassies representing every country on Earth.

Stellar claims

Dennis isn’t the only salesman to lay claim to the Moon – there have been others.

Firstly there was A Dean Lindsay who, in 1936, staked a claim on all extraterrestrial objects with the Pittsburgh Notary Public for the right to establish property.

He was followed by the author James T Mangan, who claimed ownership of outer space in 1948 and then founded the Nation of Celestial Space.

Like Dennis, a former chairman of the Hayden Planetarium in New York, called Robert R Coles sold plots of land on the Moon for $1 as part of the Interplanetary Development Corporation.

Then, computer game designer Richard Garriot, whose dad was an astronaut and who had already bought the Lunokhod 2 lunar landing module which sits on the Moon.

He bought the rest of the land as ‘Lord British’, claiming that treaties prevented governments from establishing territorial claims on the Moon but not individuals.

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