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Bag Of Moon Dust That NASA Lost To Be Auctioned, Expected To Fetch Millions

First Posted: May 26, 2017 06:01 AM EDT

A bag of lunar dust is reportedly going to be auctioned and is expected to fetch millions. Interestingly, it is the same bag that the first person to walk on the Moon, Neil Armstrong, had used to collect the very first lunar sample in 1969.

The bag containing the lunar dust has quite some story associated with it, having been on a wild ride for the past nearly 50 years. The Moon bag was mistakenly put up for public auction online and was bought by a Chicago lawyer for a paltry sum of $995 in 2015. The U.S. space agency realized its mistake after the woman had already bought the Moon bag and refused to give it to her. She then sued NASA and was awarded the ownership of the extraterrestrial artifact by a federal judge.

“Since returning to Earth, the moon bag’s erstwhile custodians have included a museum president who was convicted of theft; a woman in Illinois who had the good fortune to stumble upon the bag, mislabeled, at an online auction; and the NASA space center in Texas,” The New York Times reported. The American space agency held the artifact “under lock and key as the United States attorney’s office fought a yearlong legal battle to transfer the bag into government custody.”

The majority of the bag's content was removed by NASA for testing. However, the Moon bag still contains traces of lunar dust. Now, the immensely rare artifact will be put up for an auction by Sotheby’s, where it is expected to fetch anywhere between $2 million and $4 million, according to Chicago Tribune.

The curators at Sotheby’s auction house believe that the artifact will be the only privately held object of its kind in the world because lunar objects obtained by NASA are generally prohibited from being privately owned. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime event," a vice president at Sotheby's in New York, Cassandra Hatton, said. "This transcends space exploration. It's a relic of one of the most historic achievements of humanity." The auction will take place on July 20 to coincide with the 48th anniversary of Apollo 11’s landing on the Moon. The bids for the auction will be taken in-person as well as online and by phone.

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