Sotheby’s Will Shoot for the Moon with a Multimillion-Dollar Sale of Buzz Aldrin’s Personal Belongings Later This Month 

Included in the sale is the broken circuit breaker that almost doomed Apollo 11—and the pen Aldrin used to fix it.

Buzz Aldrin on board Apollo 11. Courtesy of NASA.

Later this month, Sotheby’s will try to send collectors over the moon with a sale of buzzworthy items from a famous astronaut. 

Come July 26, the auction house’s New York branch will present Buzz Aldrin: American Icon, a sale comprising objects from the personal collection of the eponymous pilot—many of which went to space on his history-making Gemini 12 and Apollo 11 missions in 1966 and ‘69, respectively.

The sale’s biggest-ticket items come from the latter flight, the first to put humans on the moon. Perhaps the most notable of the bunch is the infamous broken circuit breaker switch that almost stranded the Apollo 11 astronauts in space, and the felt-tip pen Aldrin used to ignite the engine manually. Both items are included in the same lot and come with a pre-sale estimate of $1 million to $2 million.

The switch that nearly ended the lives of the Apollo 11 crew and the pen that Aldrin used to save them. Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Also included from the Apollo 11 flight is the white coverall jacket worn by Aldrin, which is similarly estimated to sell for $1 million to $2 million, and a systems activation checklist from the moon landing that was supposed to be jettisoned into space, which is expected to fetch $150,000 to $250,000.

Among the sale’s other highlights are a “Go Army Beat Navy” banner that Aldrin, a West Point graduate, had custom made for his Gemini XII spacewalks ($20,000 to $30,000), and the “Original Moonman” MTV VMA Statuette, which was based off the astronaut’s flag-planting on the moon and was awarded to him in 1984 ($7,000 to $10,000).

Aldrin, now 92, called the collection a “summation of my career as an astronaut” in a statement. 

“After deep consideration,” he said, “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.”

The white, inflight coverall cacket worn by Aldrin on his journey to the moon and back. Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

“From the jacket that I wore on my trip to the moon and back, to the famous broken circuit breaker switch that nearly ended our lives, and the pen that saved us, to various artifacts we used to complete the mission, I hope that this collection offers some insight into what it has been like to be Buzz Aldrin.”

According to Sotheby’s announcement, select lots from the Aldrin collection sale will include an NFT imprinted with information about the purchased items’ microscopic makeup—a new technology designed to protect authenticated objects from being forged.

The American Icon auction belongs to Sotheby’s “Geek Week” series of sales celebrating science and discovery. The Aldrin items will go on display at Sotheby’s New York from July 21 – 25, ahead of the event.

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