Buzz Aldrin sold his space jacket, presidential medal, and other artifacts at auction for $8.2 million, using a law change to let astronauts cash in
An auction of Buzz Aldrin’s items related to Apollo 11 and Gemini XII missions fetched over $8 million.
This included a jacket worn by Aldrin to and from the moon and his Presidential Medal of Freedom.
A 2012 law clarified members of Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo missions have “full ownership” of their artifacts.
Buzz Aldrin sold a trove of space memorabilia, including his Presidential Medal of Freedom, in an auction Tuesday which amassed a total of $8,184,578.
68 items related to Aldrin’s Apollo 11 and Gemini XII space flights were sold by the Sotheby’s auction house.
They included a jacket worn by Aldrin while in flight to and from the moon, which went for $2,772,500.
Aldrin, 92, was the second person to walk on the moon, just after Neil Armstrong in the historic 1969 Apollo 11 flight.
Only twelve people have walked on the moon — all between 1969 and 1972 — and Aldrin is one of four still alive.
Several of Aldrin’s medals were also put up for auction, including his Presidential Medal of Freedom, which was sold for $277,200.
Aldrin was given the medal, the highest presidential award for civilians, by President Richard Nixon in 1969.
One lot did not sell: a pen and a circuit breaker that helped fix a malfunction on the Apollo 11 mission. Sotheby’s expected it to sell for at least $1 million but, per The New York Times, bidding stalled at around $650,000.
Aldrin did not give much detail on his decision to sell the items, saying only that it “felt right.” Aldrin has not said what the money would be used for.
“After deep consideration, the time felt right to share these items with the world, which for many are symbols of a historical moment, but for me have always remained personal mementos of a life dedicated to science and exploration,” Aldrin said in a statement last week, per France 24.
Aldrin’s jacket was “the most valuable American space-flown artifact ever sold at auction,” a Sotheby’s auctioneer said, per The Times.
This is not the first time astronaut memorabilia has been sold at auction.
A 2019 auction that fetched $12 million caused controversy when Armstrong’s items were sold by his sons after his death.
Whether astronauts could sell their memorabilia at all was once questioned, but was clarified in 2012 to make clear that they could.
A law passed under President Barack Obama clarified that NASA’s Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo crew members have “full ownership rights” over artifacts collected in the missions.
It followed a series of cases that challenged the ownership. One such case was against Edgar Mitchell, the sixth man on the moon. In 2011, NASA sued Mitchell after he put a camera from the Apollo 14 mission up for auction in a case that was settled out of court.
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