Russian space suit fetches $250,000, sale celebrated 50th anniversary of first American in space

New York — Bonhams held an extremely successful annual Space History Sale May 5, 2011, which celebrated to the day the 50th anniversary of the first American in space, Alan Shepard. A room full of active bidders competed against a myriad of telephone and online bidders for 250 lots that documented the Space Race, space exploration and the American missions to the moon, and totaled $1.2 million.

Matthew Haley, Bonhams Space specialist states, “It was amazing to witness active bidding from all over the world. There were some fierce battles at some points which gave the sale a great energy.”

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The top lot of the sale was Alexei Leonov’s 1975 Apollo-Soyuz flown space suit selling for an outstanding $242,000. Elsewhere an extensively annotated sheet by James Lovell and Fred Haise from Apollo 13 sold for $111,020. Fred Haise describes this document as “an extremely significant artifact” from that near fatal mission to the moon.

The Fédération Aeronautique Internationale certificate confirming Shepard’s success, May 5 1961, was particularly noteworthy and sold for $9,760.

The third top lot was the second space suit worn by Russian cosmonaut Gennadi Strekalov during the 10th mission to the Mir space station. This lot sold for $67,100.

Another favorite of the auction was HAM, the space chimp’s flown brass neck tag which sold for $12,200. During an exciting bidding battle, Malcolm Barber, Bonhams CEO and auctioneer of this sale, playfully said, “You will never find one of these again.”

Other notable performers include Buzz Aldrin’s flown Apollo 11 flight plan sheet for $32,940 (pre-sale estimate $25,000-35,000), a lunar chart signed by a member of every lunar flight crew for $31,720 and a set of the most extensive notes recorded while on the moon for $30,500.

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