A rare chance to buy a piece of the moon is coming up just in time for holiday shopping. For that person who’s hard to shop for, you can be pretty well assured they don’t already have one of these.
Sotheby’s auction house in New York will be putting three tiny moon rocks up for bid that were collected by the Soviet Union’s robotic Luna 16 lander and returned to the Earth in September 1970.
The lot is described as “the only known documented samples of the moon available for private ownership.”
Samples of the moon collected by the Soviet Union and the United States have typically remained in the government’s possession, and laws prevent public gifts — like the moon samples gifted to other countries by the Nixon administration — from being transferred to individuals.
According to Sotheby’s, however, the sample up for auction was ceremonially presented to Nina Ivanovna Koroleva, widow of Sergei Pavlovich Korolev, one of the early designers and directors of the Soviet space program in the 1950s and 1960s. Koroleva consigned the samples for an earlier Sotheby’s auction in 1993, where they sold for $442,500 (£346,000; AUD 623,332) to a private American collector.
The lunar rocks are expected to fetch between $700,000 and $1 million (£547,715 – 782,450; AUD 986,062 – 1,409,000) when they go up for auction again on Nov. 29. In addition to being out of this world, the rocks come with a tiny bit of bling: Sotheby’s says they’re made up of basalt with visible feldspar crystals.
Definitely a fine gift option for the person who already has everything … and the gift-giver who has way too much money just laying around.