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Sotheby’s Auctions Buzz Aldrin’s Apollo 11 Moon Landing Artifacts

July 16, 2022

– You could call it a “magnificent layout”.

Adapted from the words of Buzz Aldrin (“Magnificent desolation”) when he became one of the first humans to walk on the moon 53 years ago this week, Sotheby’s is set to offer artifacts from the personal collection of the Apollo 11 astronaut, including artifacts that contributed to the first moon landing mission.

“These objects not only witnessed humanity’s greatest achievement, but many of them made that achievement possible,” said Cassandra Hatton, Sotheby’s Global Head of Department and Senior Science and pop culture, in a statement. video preview of the auction house’s July 26 sale. “These are important historical artifacts from this greatest moment in human history. They remind us of what humanity can achieve.”

A member of NASA’s third group of astronauts selected in 1963, Aldrin completed three spacewalks on Gemini 12, the last mission to use the two-man spacecraft, three years before landing on the moon with Neil Armstrong in 1969. Today, at 92, he is the last surviving member of the Apollo 11 crew (Armstrong died in 2012 and command module pilot Michael Collins died in 2021).

“The sale spans Dr. Aldrin’s entire career, starting with his doctoral work at MIT, where he wrote his doctoral thesis on the Lunar Module Rendezvous Technique, to Gemini 12 mission artifacts, where he made his first spacewalk, and objects from the largest mission, Apollo 11,” Hatton said.

Although this is not the first auction to feature items from Aldrin’s collection – he and his family members have entrusted memorabilia to sales dating back to the early 1990s – the catalog of Sotheby’s stands out for the historical nature of the artefacts offered for sale. A 2012 law confirmed that Apollo-era astronauts retained ownership of space equipment they kept as souvenirs.

Among the highlights of the sale are a felt-tip pen and the broken tip of a circuit breaker switch that were essential for Aldrin and Armstrong to leave the lunar surface.

“There were no guards on any of the circuit breakers. One was depressed and the other was broken. So I had to depress one and break one,” Aldrin told the editor of the Apollo Lunar Surface Journal, describing the accident. in the “Eagle” lunar module during an interview in 1991.

In this case, the broken switch was needed to arm the lander’s ascent motor. While Mission Control flight controllers were designing a software solution, Aldrin came up with his own idea.

“Buzz ingeniously pulled a felt pen out of his sleeve pocket,” Hatton said. “Amazingly the tip of this pen fit perfectly into the hole where the broken switch was. He pushed it in there and miraculously the motor was able to fire up and they were able to reassemble and meet Mike. [Collins] and go home.”

The Duro-branded ink marker and plastic nib, which in 2017 was loaned to the Smithsonian for a two-year, five-city tour with the Apollo 11 command module, is expected to sell for $1 million to $2 million.

Sotheby’s also offers the jacket that Aldrin wore on the Apollo 11 mission when not wearing his space suit.

“There’s the NASA emblem, Apollo 11’s eagle emblem, its American name and flag, and some of the mission’s most famous images, other than the actual moonwalk, show Buzz wearing this jacket in the spaceship,” Hatton said. “There is no other item of clothing worn on this mission that can be privately owned.”

The space suits that Aldrin and Armstrong wore on the moon’s surface, as well as the flight suits that were donned by Armstrong and Collins are in the custody of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. Aldrin’s jacket is expected to sell for $1-2 million.

Other highlights of the “Buzz Aldrin: American Icon” sale include comprehensive Apollo 11 documents and checklists used to complete the mission, as well as a “Go Army, Beat Navy” banner that ‘Aldrin wore during one of his Gemini 12 spacewalks.

“Before Gemini 12, Gemini 6 [launched] just before the 1965 Army-Navy football game. So in the window of the Gemini 6 spacecraft, Wally Schirra and Tom Stafford put up a “Beat Army” sign. So when Gemini 12 arrived, Buzz was in the spaceship with [Jim] Lovell who was Navy and Buzz was Army, so when he was floating in space Buzz popped out of nowhere this amazing ‘Go Army, Beat Navy’ banner,” Hatton said.

Sotheby’s expects the black and white fabric sign to cost between $20,000 and $30,000.

In addition to space-borne artifacts, the sale also includes memorabilia, including flying flags, philatelic covers (stamped and stamped collector’s envelopes), the MTV VMA “Moonman” award statuette given to Aldrin, and his Presidential Medal of freedom.

The Sale “Buzz Aldrin: American Icon” will be held at the Sotheby’s Gallery in New York City beginning at 12 p.m. EDT (4 p.m. GMT) on Tuesday, July 26. An exhibition of the lots from the auction will begin from Thursday July 21 to July 25.