Moon rocks sell for $855,000 at Sotheby's New York auction house

Photo provided by Sotheby's auction house in New York of the container holding 3 tiny fragments of rocks from the Moon. Photograph:( Agencia EFE )

Agencia EFE New York, NY, USA Nov 30, 2018, 02.04 PM (IST)

The only documented moon rocks still in private hands sold on Thursday at Sotheby's New York auction house for $850,000.

The sale - including all sorts of objects and items pertaining to outer space - took place a month before the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 8 mission to send men around the Moon for the first time, and Sotheby's took advantage of the anniversary to offer about 300 collectors' items related to assorted space missions.

The moon rocks - tiny fragments, actually, had been valued between $700,000 and $1 million, and ultimately went for $855,000 after adding taxes and commissions.

The three tiny lunar stones were obtained during the unmanned Russian Luna-16 mission to the Moon in 1970.

The rocks were initially the property of Nina Ivanovna Koroleva, the video of the director of the Soviet Union's space program, Sergei Pavlovich Korolev, who received them as a gift from the USSR in recognition of the contribution of her deceased husband.

They were previously sold at a Sotheby's auction in 1993, the first time in history that any extraterrestrial item had been offered to the public.

Also going on the auction block at the unusual sale on Thursday was a Gemini space suit prepared for NASA between 1963 and 1965 for US astronaut Pete Conrad, which sold for $162,500.

Sotheby's also auctioned off was the painting "The Final Impossibility: Man's Tracks on the Moon," painted in 1969 by US artist Norman Rockwell and sold for $87,500.

Numerous models of spacecraft, clocks and maps were also sold, along with the autographs of well-known astronauts and cosmonauts - including the Soviet Union's Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space - as well as photographs taken of the Moon during space missions and the flags of various nations taken on those missions.