Estimated at $2m-4m, the bag – previewed in News Digest, ATG No 2294 – sold to an American collector at $1.5m (£1,153,845). That might be viewed as disappointing, given the saleroom’s valuation, but the when the vendor, Nancy Carlson of Inverness (Illinois), bought it in an online auction held by Gaston & Sheehan in February 2015 it cost her just $995!
A report in the current issue of the US monthly, Maine Antique Digest, reveals that the bag was part of a forfeiture sale connected with the conviction of Max L Ary, former president and CEO of the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center, and had been found in Ary’s garage.
After securing the bag, Carlson contacted NASA, who verified the fact that it contained lunar dust but then asserted ownership and retained the bag. The case went to court, where a federal judge ruled that Carlson be allowed to keep the bag.
Another of the sale’s big lots was a 352pp printed flight plan used in the dramatic, aborted Apollo 13 mission of 1970 that sold for $220,000 (£169,230).
Manuscript notations by all three crew members – mission commander Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert and Fred Halse – detail the changes to the flight plan made following an oxygen tank explosion that led to reduced power, loss of cabin heat, water shortage and a critical need for makeshift repairs to the carbon dioxide removal system.
Signed by all three men and containing three original caricatures of them by Johnson Space Center artist Barbara Matelski, the flight plan was subsequently gifted by the crew to Bob Lindsay, the lead flight planner for the Apollo 13 mission.