One April night in 2019, while a German shepherd, aptly named Roky, was sleeping, a meteorite fell on his doghouse, punching a hole through it. Don’t worry: he’s fine.
When the doghouse was auctioned by Christie’s, much like the meteorite itself, the bidding went through the woof (sorry), bringing in $44,100.
That result for the rusty, corrugated tin shelter — with a gaping seven-inch hole on top — fetched more than double the amount of the extraterrestrial rock that crashed through it; that sold for $21,420.
Although the doghouse fell short of its estimate of $200,000-$300,000, it still bested what was thought would be the top lot of the auction: the third-largest piece of Mars on Earth, officially known as NWA 12690, which had a high estimate of $800,000, but failed to find a buyer in last week’s online-only sale, Deep Impact: Martian, Lunar and Other Rare Meteorites.
A meteorite that hit and killed a cow in Venezuela in 1972 sold for $5,040.
James Hyslop, head of the science and natural history department at Christie's, told CNN that the reason why the doghouse is more valuable than the meteorite itself is because objects hit by them are “extraordinarily rare” and he’s aware of only a handful of these objects in private hands.
According to the Planetary Science Institute, fewer than 10 of around 500 space rocks that land on Earth each year are recovered. The rest most often land in remote areas or the ocean.
According to Christie’s catalog notes, on April 23, 2019, at 9:07 p.m. in Aguas Zarcas, located in the rain forest of north central Costa Rica, Roky experienced quite a fright when the meteorite crashed through his doghouse and barely missed him. It was part of a shower of exotic stone meteorites loaded with organic compounds. The formal coordinates of Roky’s home, 10°24’9.35"N 84°21’51.26"W, are now forever part of the scientific literature.
Christie's said that Aguas Zarcas meteorites are the same type as Murchison, among the most researched meteorites of all time. These samples not only contain tens of thousands of prebiotics, including amino acids, but also pre-solar grains ranging up to twice the age of the solar system. Today, many cosmochemists throughout the world are either investigating Aguas Zarcas specimens or waiting to obtain them.
The auction house also noted that other objects that became valuable after being struck by a meteorite include a mailbox in Claxton, Georgia, that sold for $83,000 at auction in 2007, and a Chevy Malibu hit by a Peekskill meteorite in 2007 and eventually sold in 2010 for $230,000, the highest price ever paid for an item of this kind. A young woman reportedly had bought the car from her grandmother for $400 a week before it got hit.
For more auction results, visit Christie's.