Fine art auctioneers Bonhams will auction Moon dust collected by Neil Armstrong during the Apollo 11 mission next month on April 13, a report from Yahoo News reveals. Anyone wanting to get their hands on the historic space dust will likely face strong competition at auction, and the item might go for as much as $1.2 million. In a social media post, Bonhams explains that the lunar dust is “the only example of verified Apollo 11 Moon dust that can be legally sold.”
NASA isn’t aware when it lost track of the bag, but in 2002, it was in the possession of a space museum co-founder in Kansas called Max Ary, who was convicted of selling stolen artifacts. The bag of lunar dust was then compounded and put up for sale for restitution in 2015 where it was bought by its current owner, Nancy Lee Carlson, for only $995.
When Carlson later sent the bag to NASA for verification, the U.S. space agency refused to return it, saying the bag belonged to “the American people” and should be displayed in a public musem. In 2016, Carlson sued NASA for wrongful seizure of property, and won her court battle, with Judge J. Thomas Marten ruling that Carlson was a “good faith purchaser” when she bought the lunar dust pouch at a legal auction.
The Moon dust was collected as a contingency sample by Neil Armstrong on July 20, 1969 when he became the first person to walk on the Moon. Bonhams also explains that its Space History auction contains a “curated selection of highlights from the Space Race, from the launch of Sputnik-1 to the “dress rehearsal for the Moon” Apollo 10 and, of course, Apollo 11.”