Woman Buys NASA artifact for $995, Selling it at Auction for Astronomical Sum

July 20, 2017Jul 20, 2017

A woman who purchased a moon dust bag for $995, handled by Neil Armstrong during his historic Apollo 11 lunar landing, is reportedly selling it at Sotheby’s for around $2 million to $4 million, according to The Chicago Tribune

The sale Thursday comes after a federal judge ruled in December that, although NASA argued the artifact “belongs to the American people,” the private seller’s purchase of the bag cannot be reversed.

The ruling in a U.S. district court means that Nancy Carlson, a collector and resident of northwest suburban Inverness, has full legal rights to the bag. She had bought it in 2015 in an online government auction that had misidentified the artifact.

What Carlson received in the mail was an ordinary-looking bag made of white Beta cloth and polyester with rubberized nylon and a brass zipper, approximately 12-by-8 1/2 inches in dimension.

Carlson knew that the bag was from a space flight, but didn’t know which one. When she sent it to NASA for testing, NASA realized what had happened and refused to return the bag. After the federal ruling, the bag was returned to Carlson.

“I’m thrilled we won,” said Carlson at the time of the ruling. “This is like the Holy Grail. … I’m trying to be as anonymous as possible.”

Since December she’s received hundreds of emails and calls a day inquiring of the bag. After keeping it in her bedroom closet, she now has it stored in a location unknown even to her.

The moon dust bag is slated as the “star lot” item at the Sotheby’s auction in New York City Thursday, an event held on the 48th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing.

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