Buzz Aldrin's personal space memorabilia collection heads to auction at Sotheby's

On 26th July 2022 Sotheby’s, New York will be auctioning the ‘Buzz Aldrin: American Icon’ collection, an incredible selection of 69 Gemini XII and Apollo 11 space memorabilia items from the personal collection of Buzz Aldrin.

There are some fantastic pieces available including checklists and flight plans, flown flags, covers, earpieces and parts of lunar modules, distinguished medals and even MTV awards.
Buzz Aldrin Apollo 11 activation list
Image: Sotheby's


The major items in the sale include Aldrin’s Lunar Surface flown Systems Activation checklist with an estimate of $150,000-$250,000

Buzz Aldrin's Apollo 11 flight plan
Image: Sotheby's


Also a flown Apollo 11 Summary Flight Plan — A Complete Summary of the Entire Mission, From Launch to Splashdown – signed by Buzz Aldrin, also with an estimate of $150,000-$250,000.

The sale also includes the well documented ‘broken circuit breaker switch’ that almost resulted in disaster for the Apollo 11 mission, and the pen that saved their lives.

Buzz Aldrin's Apollo 11 pen and broken circuit breaker
Image: Sotheby's


During the mission one of the astronauts accidentally broke the engine arm switch, used to power the engines on their exit from the lunar surface. Luckily the pen perfectly fitted the hole left behind by the broken switch and was able to start the engines.

The switch and pen, which have previously been displayed at The Smithsonian, have an estimate of $1,000,000-$2,000,000.

Buzz Aldrin's lifetime baseball passes
Image: Sotheby's


At a more affordable level are Buzz’s Lifetime Passes to the National and American Leagues of Major League Baseball which carry an estimate of $1,200-$1,800. Previous recipients of these Lifetime Passes have include President Roosevelt and Babe Ruth and Charles Lindbergh.  

The star lot, also with an estimate of $1,000,000-$2,000,000, is undoubtedly the inflight coverall jacket worn by Buzz Aldrin on his trip to the Moon and back, with Apollo 11 NASA mission emblem and Buzz Aldrin name tag on the chest and the United States flag on the left shoulder, this is the only flight worn Apollo 11 garment available to private collectors. 

Buzz Aldrin's Apollo 11 flight jacket for sale at Sotheby's
Image: Sotheby's


All other known Apollo 11 flight garments are in the National Air & Space Museum at the Smithsonian in Washington DC, including Buzz Aldrin’s trousers and boots, and Neil Armstrong and Michael Collins’ coveralls, plus all three astronauts pressure suits.

The jacket is accompanied by a signed letter of provenance from Buzz Aldrin stating “This jacket has been in my private collection since we returned home from the Moon on July 24, 1969.“

NASA have been successful in stopping a number of space memorabilia sales in recent years, most recently in June 2022 when RR Auction had consigned a small vial of Moondust along with a selection of dead cockroaches used in trials.

And also in 2011 when the Government sued Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell to stop a Bonhams auction and recover a camera used to explore the Moon’s surface. Mitchell agreed to surrender the camera which had an estimate of $60,000-$80,000.

At the time the Government stated “All equipment and property used during NASA operations remains the property of NASA unless explicitly released or transferred to another party,”

So is the Buzz Aldrin: American Icon auction actually legal, or will NASA come-a-knocking on Sotheby’s door?

Well, a subsequent 2012 law in the USA stated that Apollo Astronauts could have ownership of the memorabilia they kept from the mission.

So prepare yourself for what could be the greatest space memorabilia auction of all time.

We would expect interest from Museums to be huge so if you are a collector this really is your last chance to purchase an item from Buzz’s personal collection as you’ll probably never have the opportunity again.

View the full Buzz Aldrin: American Icon auction at Sotheby's.

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