A space memorabilia auction featuring The Neil Armstrong Family Collection™ realized more than $7.4 million Saturday, Nov. 3, at Heritage Auctions. Armstrong’s personally owned memorabilia – spanning a childhood letter to the Easter Bunny to the Apollo 11 ID Plate from the module he used to become the first person to walk on the Moon – sold for $5.2 million. The sale is the first of three auctions scheduled through 2019 of the legendary astronaut’s lifelong collection.
The three-day event set a world record for the most valuable space memorabilia auction ever held. Nearly 2,450 bidders snapped up space travel mementos, pushing sell-through rates above 99.5 percent by both lot and dollar value.
“Thank you to the enthusiasts out there, the supporters of NASA, the lovers of science and the dreamers of impossible dreams,” son Mark Armstrong said. “Thank you for your unwavering support of space exploration. It's my hope that you continue to do what you do to boldly propel us forward into the future.”
The Armstrong Family Collection™ is an extraordinary archive, chronicling the life and career of one of the most historic figures of the 20th century through the lens of the objects he loved, collected, and preserved for decades. Much of the Apollo 11 Mission Commander’s collection had never before been seen by the public or offered for sale.
Armstrong’s personal Spacecraft ID plate from Apollo 11's Lunar Module Eagle, flown on the first manned lunar landing, July 16-24, 1969, sold for $468,500. The Largest Size American Flag, measuring 17-3/4 inches by 11-1/2 inches, Armstrong kept as a treasured Apollo 11 souvenir, sold for $275,000.
Two evocative relics commemorating mankind’s command of the air, a piece of the propeller and section of the wing fabric from Orville and Wilbur Wright's invention of the first successful airplane, sold for $275,000 each. The relics from the Wright Brother’s historic flight were carried to the moon just 66 years later when Armstrong’s made his footprint on the lunar surface.
To preserve and document the collection's authenticity and provenance for generations to come, the Armstrong family and Heritage collaborated with Collectibles Authentication Guaranty (CAG) to accurately attribute and certify every item.
“CAG did a wonderful job expertly describing and, when appropriate, grading and encapsulating the Armstrong Family Collection items,” said Michael Riley, Director of Space Memorabilia at Heritage Auctions. “CAG’s certification made it far easier for us to auction the collection and likewise for our clients to evaluate and bid on it.”
Armstrong’s light blue owned and worn Gemini flight suit, a rare, surviving memento of his legendary work on the Project Gemini program soared to $109,375, more than five times its $20,000 pre-auction estimate.
“Working with the family to share objects near and dear to Neil Armstrong with his fans and space memorabilia collectors is a shining point in the history of Heritage,” said Greg Rohan, president of Heritage Auctions. “We are excited for the spring, when we have the pleasure of bringing more never-before-seen artifacts and private mementos to the world.”
Additional highlights include:
- A Crayon Coloring of Flowers, from the first grade with a note from his mother, sold for $15,000.
Heritage Auctions’ presentation of The Neil Armstrong Family Collection™ Part II is May 9-10, 2019, with a third and final sale set for November 2019.