Thanks to NASA Inventory Error, Illinois Woman $1.8M Richer

Seller acquired moon dust bag, auctioned Thursday, for just $995
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 21, 2017 1:43 AM CDT
Moon Dust Collection Bag Sells for $1.8M
The Apollo 11 Contingency Lunar Sample Return Bag used by astronaut Neil Armstrong.   (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

One small inventory error has led to a giant payday for Illinois woman Nancy Lee Carlson. A moon dust collection bag that Carlson bought for just $995 in an online government auction in 2015 sold for $1.8 million at a Sotheby's auction in New York Thursday, the BBC reports. The bag, marked "Lunar Sample Bag," was used by Neil Armstrong to collect moon dust during the Apollo 11 mission in 1969 and still contains small rocks and traces of lunar dust, the AP reports. The buyer declined to be identified.

The bag is believed to be the only artifact from the Apollo 11 mission in private hands. It was among items that the FBI seized from the home of Max Ary, the former director of a Kansas space museum, in 2003. NASA tried to get the bag back when it realized it had been misidentified and sold, but a federal judge ruled in Carlson's favor. She plans to use some of the proceeds to set up a scholarship at Northern Michigan University. The bag was sold among 180 lots Sotheby's auctioned off to mark the 48th anniversary of the first moon landing. Other items included the Apollo 13 flight plan, which sold for $275,000. (More Apollo 11 stories.)

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