Buzz Aldrin’s jacket, worn on his historic first mission to the moon’s surface in 1969, has been auctioned off to a bidder for nearly US$2.8-million (about $3.6-million).
The $2,772,500 paid for the Apollo 11 inflight coverall jacket is the highest for any American space-flown artifact sold at auction, according to Sotheby’s, which handled the sale. The unidentified winning bidder, who participated by phone, outlasted several others in a bidding that spanned almost 10 minutes.
According to CNN, Aldrin’s jacket is now the only flown garment from the Apollo 11 mission to be owned privately. Jackets belonging to other Apollo 11 crew members Neil Armstrong and Michael Collins are both kept at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.
The jacket displays Aldrin’s name tag on the left breast above the Apollo 11 mission emblem, and the American flag on the left shoulder. It is made of a fire-resistant material known as Beta cloth that was incorporated in spacesuits in response to the fire that killed three astronauts aboard Apollo 1 in 1967, according to Sotheby’s.
Several additional Apollo 11 items were also sold at the New York Sotheby’s auction, including a complete summary of the mission, which sold for $819,000, more than five times its original high estimate.
A summary of the touchdown of the lunar module Eagle was purchased at the auction for $327,600, over six times its expected price.
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A fire extinguisher from the lunar module, medals of service and an MTV Video Music Award “moonman” statuette (whose likeness is modelled after Aldrin) were also sold at the auction.
Aldrin, who is now 92 years old, released a statement claiming the items sold at the Sotheby’s auction represented a summary of his vast career.
“After deep consideration, the time felt right to share these items with the world, which for many are symbols of a historical moment, but for me have always remained personal mementos of a life dedicated to science and exploration,” he said. “I hope that this collection offers some insight into what it has been like to be Buzz Aldrin.”
The auction took place less than a week after Apollo 11’s 53rd anniversary.
Aldrin and Armstrong became the first astronauts to walk on the moon on July 20, 1969.
— With files from Global News’ Sarah Do Couto