Amelia Earhart's Long-Lost Helmet Fetches Huge Price

Bidder shells out $825K
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 12, 2022 7:45 AM CST
Updated Mar 6, 2022 9:04 AM CST
Earhart's Long-Lost Helmet Was in a Minnesota Closet
In this June 26, 1928, file photo, American aviatrix Amelia Earhart poses with flowers as she arrives in Southampton, England, Britain, after her transatlantic flight on the "Friendship" from Burry Point, Wales.   (AP Photo, File)

(Newser) Update: How much would you pay for a leather helmet worn by Amelia Earhart? An anonymous bidder decided $825,000 was the perfect price at an online auction, reports the AP. That's way higher than expected: It was thought the helmet might fetch $80,000 or perhaps low six figures beforehand, per CNN. Our original story on the helmet's origins from Feb. 10 follows:

A leather helmet worn by none other than Amelia Earhart is currently up for auction. That it has the potential to fetch six figures isn't too much of a surprise given Earhart's status as an American icon. More surprising, however, is the story of the helmet itself, as told by Laurie Gwen Shapiro in the New York Times. It seems that in 1929—eight years before her disappearance—Earhart competed in an all-woman air race that finished in Cleveland. Though she came in third, Earhart, already a celebrity, was swarmed by fans upon touching down. Her well-worn leather helmet came off in the chaos, and it ended up in the hands of a young man. He gave it to a young woman on whom he had a crush.

That woman, Ellie Brookhart, saved the helmet in a plastic bag and would bring it out for the occasional show-and-tell over the years. It became family lore. When she died, son Anthony Twiggs decided the helmet "might be better in a museum instead of a closet in Minnesota," writes Shapiro. His initial calls, however, were met with skepticism about the story, and Twiggs began to question it himself. He enlisted the services of Resolution Photomatch in Seattle, a company used by auction houses to determine the authenticity of such things. Conclusion? Mom was right: It was unquestionably Earhart's helmet, worn when she famously became the first woman to cross the Atlantic as a passenger in 1928. The current high bid at Heritage Auctions is $33,000, but bidding doesn't end until Feb. 26. (The bigger mystery of what happened to Earhart herself endures.)

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