Apollo 11 Tapes Will Be Auctioned In July

Video recordings were previously purchased for $218

Apollo 11
Buzz Aldrin removing the passive seismometer from a compartment in the SEQ bay of the Lunar Lander
NASA Apollo Archive

The only known audio recordings of the first manned mission to the moon would be priceless, you’d think. Surely, if resold, these would end up selling for thousands — if not millions — of dollars. You might need to round that down a little bit. In 1973, a man named Gary George purchased three videotapes of Apollo 11 from NASA for the impressive sum of $218.

Now, those videos are set to be auctioned off on July 20 at Sotheby’s, along with other objects pertaining to humanity’s exploration of the solar system and beyond. 

It took NASA over thirty years to realize that they no longer had footage of the moon landing, according to The Guardian’s report. It was only then that George realized the full significance of his purchase.

In 2006, Nasa admitted that they could not find the original video recordings of the landing. It was not until two years later, when George was on holiday with a friend who worked at Nasa, that he found out they were looking for them.

“Quite frankly, I was sitting at the table drinking a beer and I said, ‘Well, damn, I have those,’” said George.

The Sotheby’s auction, titled “Space Exploration,” will also include spacesuits, images of the Earth taken from orbit, a copy of Jules Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon signed by 10 astronauts and the control panel used to launch the Saturn V rocket. 

Sotheby’s estimates that the videotapes — again, first purchased for all of $218 — will sell for between $1,000,000 and $2,000,000. As price increases go, you could call that astronomical.

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