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Superior to feature Soyuz, new venue

February 28, 2000 — When bidders gather for the next Superior Galleries auction this May, they are bound to notice changes. In addition to an increase in notable lots — including a flown Soyuz — the sale's venue will have moved from the gallery's headquarters in Beverly Hills to the Santa Monica Museum of Flying.

Superior's May 5-6, 2001, sale will mark only the second time a manned spacecraft has been publically auctioned (the first, Soyuz TM-10, was sold by Sotheby's in 1993 for $1.65 million). Expected to sell for over $2 million the Soyuz TM-26 descent capsule was launched in August 1997 to the then-crippled Mir space station. Cosmonauts Anatoly Solovyov and Pavel Vinogradov returned to earth inside the capsule after spending 197 days, 17 hours and 35 minutes in space.

"This is a historic piece of equipment which comes 'fully loaded' and includes an invitation for two to attend a Russian space launch, a guided VIP tour of Star City and a tour of RSC Energia," Superior describes in a release issued February 28. "Perhaps even more important, all shipping, packing and customs detail will be handled free of charge to the winning bidder."

In addition to the Soyuz, the auction also offers one of a kind and rare memorabilia.

Among the more notable lots are:
  • original die proofs for both the Apollo 11 mission plaque and a medallion carried on the flight;

  • the autographs of all twelve Americans to walk on the Moon;

  • both a martian and lunar meteorite, the latter estimated at $25,000 to $35,000;

  • the official Air Force AFTO 781 form completed by Shepard upon his return from his Mercury flight;

  • an Apollo 11 glove liner, carried to the lunar surface by Aldrin; and

  • the spacecraft key to the Apollo 1 command module, presented by North American Aviation to Edward White.
"This sale marks a milestone of sorts," wrote Superior in their release. "This being the mythical year of Arthur C. Clarke's futuristic look into deep space and man's never ending search for the heavens, we, too, are looking ahead to the future."

To celebrate the strength of the sale, as well as their renewed committement to collectors, Superior chose the Santa Monica Museum of Flying as the site of the next auction. The museum is located on the grounds of what was once the headquarters of Douglas Aircraft.

"It is a wonderful place to visit — especially for aviation and aircraft buffs — and is the perfect location for Superior to conduct its ever-expanding Space auctions."

Superior is planning to provide free shuttle service to all major hotels in the area to assist those wishing to attend the sale. Also in the planning stages is a fund raiser in conjunction with the museum, tentatively scheduled for May 4. And though not confirmed, Superior is also hoping to host a "meet the astronaut" dinner or cocktail party for those attending the sale.

Auction catalogs, which are expected to begin shipping April 5, can be ordered now through Superior's website.

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