Moon rocks retrieved by Soviet space mission sold for $855G

Three tiny Moon rocks brought back from space by the unmanned Soviet Luna-16 mission were sold for $855,000 at auction on Thursday.

The rocks, which had a pre-sale estimate of $700,000 to $1 million, are the only known lunar samples available for private ownership, according to auction house Sotheby’s. In 1993 the rocks were sold for $442,500 to an anonymous American collector, marking the first time that a piece of another world had been offered to the public.

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Retrieved from the lunar surface in 1970, the samples were presented to Nina Ivanova Koroleva, widow of Sergei Pavlovich Korolev, the former director of the Soviet space program.

The buyer, a private American collector, has not been named.

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There is great interest in Moon-related artifacts. Last year, for example, a bag filled with Moon dust filled by Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong was sold by Sotheby’s for $1.8 million.

The bag had previously been misidentified and mistakenly sold at an online government auction for $995. The Chicago-area woman who purchased the bag won an intense court battle with NASA, which attempted to retrieve the artifact.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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