Three lunar rocks returned to Earth by the Luna-16 unmanned mission in 1970 were demonstrated at Sotheby’s on November 28, 2018 in New York.
Three lunar stones returned to Earth almost half a century ago, were sold for $ 855,000 in New York on November 28, 2018. Recall that these are the only known documented lunar samples in private hands.
The stones were mined by the unmanned Soviet mission Luna-16 in 1970 and were last sold for $ 442,200 to American buyers in Sotheby's (auction house) in 1993. Initially they belonged to Nina Koroleva, the widow of Sergei Korolev, who was the former director of the Soviet space program in the 1950s and 1960s. Korolev was also a rocket engineer and developer.
His work was crucial to the success of many Soviet space programs, including the first human flight into orbit (Yuri Gagarin). But Korolev died in 1966, so he did not have time to see samples of the lunar soil. In September 1970, Luna-16 landed on an earth satellite, drilled a 35-centimeter hole and collected samples. Extremely rare authentic samples of the moon can be found on the market. Usually, all American lunar rocks are collected in the hands of the US government, but there are a small number of stones in private possession.
Where does this price come from? One should think about how many lives had to be lost and what risks and sacrifices scientists and cosmonauts had to go to touch the Moon and bring a handful of stones. So the symbolic value is much higher than the dollar equivalent at auction.