The 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 mission to the moon had led to organization of three high profile commemorative auctions by organizations in USA wherein thousands of memorabilia related to the mission were auctioned. The items from Apollo 11’s journey in 1969 to Tranquility Base were auctioned in two lots some of which attracted bids in seven figures while some did not find any buyer. VP and specialist of Sotheby’s Books & Manuscripts Dept. of NY who was handling the sale stated that space exploration continues to capture imagination and heart of people across the world which is why it received such overwhelming response from general public.
Besides the exhibition of Sotheby’s, sales based on space exploration theme had been held by Heritage Auctions of Dallas and auction house Christie’s in New York during the same period. Sotheby’s began its Space Exploration sales with a video tape which is described as the base NASA recordings of the moon landings of Apollo 11. The three reels measuring 2 inches each hold an incomplete recording of the mission on 20 July 1969 and also of the first moonwalk by astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.
The reels sold for $1.82 million after three bidders competed for them on phone and online for nearly five minutes though Sotheby did not identify the bidder. The amount was more than 8000 times the amount its owner Gary George had paid for it in 1976 when he bought nearly 1000 magnetic tape reels from a surplus government auction.
As a NASA intern he randomly bought the tapes without being aware that Apollo 11 footage was included in them but after he found out the gem he held on to it like a relic for 40 years. Other items included a Hasselblad movie magazine that was sold for $225,000 and 20 control panels from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center of Apollo Firing Room that sold for $212,500.