A bag used by U.S. astronaut Neil Armstrong to bring the first samples of moon dust back to Earth was sold to an anonymous bidder for $1.8 million at an auction in New York on Thursday marking the 48th anniversary of the first moon landing.
The bag, which for years sat unidentified in a box at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, was bought by a person who bid by telephone and did not wish to be named publicly, auctioneer Sotheby’s said.
Auctioneers had expected the bag to fetch between $2 million and $4 million.
It was the highest-value item at an auction of moon memorabilia that included the Apollo 13 flight plan annotated by its crew, which sold for $275,000; a spacesuit worn by U.S. astronaut Gus Grissom, which sold for $43,750, and a famous image of Buzz Aldrin of Apollo 11 on the moon taken by Neil Armstrong, which went for $35,000.
After Armstrong and his Apollo 11 crew came come in July of 1969, the fate of the 12-inch by 8.5-inch (30-cm by 22-cm) bag labeled “Lunar Sample Return, was unknown for decades. After disappearing from the Johnson center, it surfaced in the garage of the manager of a Kansas museum, Max Ary, who was convicted of its theft in 2014, according to court records.