Going, going, gone! Pieces of space history will now be in new hands after a Sotheby's auction sold a rare collection of items from moonwalker Buzz Aldrin's Apollo 11 and Gemini 12 missions, which included a $2.77 million jacket and lots of instructions and checklists.
The "Buzz Aldrin: American Icon" auction went live on July 26 at noon with Aldrin's collection of artifacts from his space missions. There were 69 items up for grabs to the highest bidder.
One of the most coveted pieces was Lot No. 6, Aldrin's coverall jacket he wore throughout his spaceflight during the 1969 Apollo 11 moon mission. The white coat includes the Apollo 11 mission patch and the letters "E. Aldrin" for the astronaut's name, Edwin Aldrin.
The bidding for the jacket started at $1-1.5 million. However, Cassandra Hatton, the Global Head of Science and Popular Culture at Sotheby's, said she expected the bids to go higher, possibly over $2 million. The bidding even went above those expectations.
At the auction, the winning bidder bought the jacket for $2.25 million, a new record for a space artifact. With Sotheby's premium, the jacket cost $2,772,500.
Of the dozens of lot items, a majority were complete mission-flown documents. These aren't just any paper products. Aldrin used the charts, mission checklists and flight plan sheets during his two spaceflights.
The opening bid started at $70,000 for the "Apollo 11 Summary Flight Plan — A Complete Summary of the Entire Mission, From Launch to Splashdown," which flew with Aldrin to the moon and back.
Documents from the Gemini 12 mission, including extra-vehicular activity – the technical term for a spacewalk – checklists were also up for auction. Dr. Rendezvous even signed the Gemini 12 flight plan, which cost $1,600 at the opening bid.
The Army veteran's "Go Army Beat Navy" flag is among those personal items with an opening bid of $14,000. The banner flew with Aldrin on Gemini 12 and is also signed by him. The West Point graduate took the banner on one of his spacewalks which happened at the same time as the Army/Navy football game.
"I should add that Army beat Navy 20-7 that year," Aldrin said about the item. "I would like to think that my high-flying tribute to Army might have helped in the win."
The black-felt-tipped pen used on the moon when a broken circuit breaker switch "nearly ended the lives of the Apollo 11 Crew" was up for grabs and expected to fetch up to $2 million.
Aldrin said he was laying down to sleep on the Lunar Module floor when he noticed the top of the Engine Arm switch also on the floor. The switch was used to power up the engines in order to re-launch from the Lunar Surface and dock up with the Apollo 11 Command Module.
Ultimately, Aldrin pushed a pen into the circuit breaker, allowing it to click on and rearm the Engine Arm circuit.
"Now we could leave the lunar surface, rendezvous with Mike in the command module and head for home," Aldrin recalled. "Disaster averted."
There were also some newer items among Aldrin's collection, such as the "Original Moonman" MTV Video Music Award statuette presented to the former astronaut and his 1969 Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Ten of the lots also come with non-fungible tokens or NFTs, a unique digital identifier linked to the physical object using 3D scanning technology.
Another auction on July 28 will also be space focused, including meteorites and space items from the moon, Mars and more.