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  Sotheby's June 2006: Pete Conrad's patches

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Author Topic:   Sotheby's June 2006: Pete Conrad's patches
SRB
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posted 05-16-2006 07:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SRB   Click Here to Email SRB     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
For anyone with a lot of money to spend, Sotheby's will sell three great space items on June 15th (Sale 8211, lots 233, 234 and 235). Charles Conrad Jr. and Nancy Conrad are selling the NASA patch from Charles Conrad's lunar EVA spacesuit ($200,000 - $300,000 est.), the American flag patch from his PLSS ($200,000 - $300,000 est.) and the VHF antenna from his PLSS ($20,000 - $30,000 est.) Since these lots are buried in a Books and Manuscripts sale, it is hard to know who will see them. However, Sotheby's has clients that can afford to buy whatever they want. Stay tuned to see how these items do at the auction.

capoetc
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posted 05-16-2006 10:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for capoetc   Click Here to Email capoetc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Man, Pete will be laughing his @ss off in astronaut heaven if these items sell for anything near that amount!

Larry McGlynn
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posted 05-17-2006 06:45 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Larry McGlynn   Click Here to Email Larry McGlynn     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It would be wonderful to see some lunar surface EVA patches go for $200,000. Sotherby's would be one of the places where it could happen.

These patches have been out on the market since 2001 and have yet to achieve a six figure per patch price range. The average price for lunar surface EVA patches has been steady at around $50,000 since that time.

It will be interesting to watch. It will be interesting to see where these patches will show up again.

hammer&feather
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posted 05-17-2006 02:01 PM           Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here we go again. Auction houses love to estimate every lot three or four times higher than the actual prices realized before.

Some rich person might end up with Conrad's worn Apollo 12 beta patch and when they pay the $200000 plus I fear that the auction house experts win and Pete will really laugh his butt off as some other member correctly stated.

Let's see what happens.

Nancy Conrad is in a win, win situation and to be honest I would trade my husband's moon worn patch for a nice amount of money. I mean you can buy a big townhouse in a nice area with this money.

To be honest some lots may be 1% are estimated way to low and it almost looks like the experts are really not in the know about space memorabilia. I have purchased some items with wrong, way to low estimates and I am really happy with all my past purchases.

Good luck to all especially for all future auctions.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-17-2006 02:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
When Irwin's PLSS patches were sold for $310,000 at Christie's New York in 1999 there were some who thought the price was outlandish. While there were many astronomical hammer prices at that particular sale, I personally felt that the result for the moon-stained patch was right on target (if not a bit low).

There were only 12 sets of patches worn on the lunar surface, and each deserve every penny of a mid-six figure sale. Likewise, I feel the estimate for the VHF antenna is too low. Lunar surface souvenirs (flags, PPK items) are fine to sell for $5,000 to $10,000 but true artifacts -- part of the equipment actually used as part of the mission -- should be as prized as any piece of art, antique or other item that hits the auction block. If paintings can sell for seven figures, why shouldn't the same be true for the artifacts from the greatest adventure in the history of all mankind?

Richard
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posted 05-17-2006 04:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Richard   Click Here to Email Richard     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Unfortunately, the demand is not there. Furthermore, there seems to be more and more previously "unique" items popping up. With dead artists, we seem to have most of the paintings accounted for and there is a limited supply. With space items, we just don't really know what is out there. In addition, as with the Ary case, there is always the chance that the gov't may decide to confiscate your property.

By the way, wasn't the Irwin patch later sold for a much lower price and great loss?

rchappel
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posted 05-17-2006 04:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for rchappel   Click Here to Email rchappel     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
So, if Neil Armstrong's patch were to become available, what do you think it could bring? $500K? $1mm?

That would truly be a unique item so all it takes is two rich people who really wnat it I guess.

rchappel
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posted 05-17-2006 04:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for rchappel   Click Here to Email rchappel     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This is off topic but, Richard's comment reminds me of when I first saw a STS-1 Flown US Flag for sale, I thought that was pretty cool and was surprised it was so cheap. But then I saw the official provision list here on collectSPACE and noted there were officially at least 10,000(!) of them on board! Zowie.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-17-2006 04:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Richard:
By the way, wasn't the Irwin patch later sold for a much lower price and great loss?
It was offered for sale by Aurora Auctions but I haven't seen if it changed owners or was bought back by its owner.

My comments above were not really reflective of demand or market value, but rather what I thought they should be worth. Some might argue that only the market value counts and I won't dispute that, but its a travesty that the interest doesn't exist to put these treasures in the context they deserve.

As for the patches being reclaimed, the government can only take back items that were not deaccessed (transferred) formally (and for which paperwork exists to prove such). The patches were officially presented to the astronauts with NASA documentation. They are now and forever will be private property. (The VHF antenna was never intended to return to Earth and it has since been documented that the Apollo astronauts were allowed to keep such items as personal souvenirs.)

On review, one more thing: so long as we are (or at least, I am) talking about values, I would think the VHF antenna would be rightfully appraised higher than the patches, given that it served more than just decoration.

Richard
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posted 05-17-2006 05:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Richard   Click Here to Email Richard     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
You make some very good points. I would agree that I would value the antenna higher, but would the lay public really understand the significance that it played?

hammer&feather
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posted 05-17-2006 05:34 PM           Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Honestly. I believe it's not in the interest of we the people when those rare unique items end up in a private house of a rich collector. I also believe Armstrong will make his EVA NASA patch available for the public in a museum of his choice. He probably has written his will that his family will do so when he left this planet Earth forever. Of course, I only can assume. Robert is correct the patches could be sold in the figures he claims. There are much more master oil paintings out there like these 12 NASA moon dust stained NASA beta patches.

Imagine in 50 years the bidders will be happy to have purchased the original Conrad items. When you also take into account that those items can be kept in the winning bidders family for the future generations then the Sky is the limit. In 500 years assuming the patch is well kept it will be an unbelievable item with perfect proof that it came from the wife of the moonwalker Pete Conrad. Wow great! I just figure I should bid myself.

Maybe my bank can follow my believing and helps me in providing the funds for this mega investment but I strongly doubt it.

I wish Nancy Conrad the very best for the upcoming auction sale.

FFrench
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posted 05-17-2006 05:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FFrench     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
As for the patches being reclaimed, the government can only take back items that were not deaccessed (transferred) formally (and for which paperwork exists to prove such).
Besides, I'd love to see them try and reclaim Alan Bean's from all the little pieces he chopped up and sprinkled into his paintings...

Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-17-2006 07:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Richard:
I would agree that I would value the antenna higher, but would the lay public really understand the significance that it played?
Probably not, and the patches will always be more recognizeable, but then it should only take a single photo to point out Conrad's antenna on the Moon while it likely would take a much longer discussion to explain the significance of a Van Gogh original.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-17-2006 07:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by hammer&feather:
I also believe Armstrong will make his EVA NASA patch available for the public in a museum of his choice.
Already done. Armstrong and Aldrin both donated all their patches to the National Air and Space Museum to be kept with their spacesuits. Hence Sotheby's auction description claiming that Conrad's patches are the "earliest" example of Moon-used insiginias that will ever be available.

Richard
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posted 05-17-2006 07:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Richard   Click Here to Email Richard     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by FFrench:
Besides, I'd love to see them try and reclaim Alan Bean's from all the little pieces he chopped up and sprinkled into his paintings...
Funny that you say that, but I believe that something quite close to that took place in the past.

Robert, maybe you can give more details, but I seem to recall that in 1999 a person had the federal gov't confiscate a desk set looking for lunar material. The set was chopped up and then returned in little pieces when no material was found. The owner was cleared, but not reimbursed.

SRB
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posted 05-17-2006 08:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SRB   Click Here to Email SRB     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A most interesting discussion about these items. In establishing of the "value" of any collectible, demand plays a far greater role than supply.

A lot of people collect patches but few collect pieces of equipment that were used on the moon. While not the same as a piece of a PLSS that was actually used on EVAs, nice pieces of moon landed LM equipment have sold within the range Sotheby sets for the VHF antena.

I totally agree with the comment that this area is hurt because we don't know what is available to collectors. The recent availability of Richard Gordon's Apollo 12 manuals and Gene Cernan's Apollo 10 and 17 manuals make you realize that there are hundreds of pages of flown or moon landed manuals in private hands.

A quick count of the manuals that returned to earth on Apollo 11 show that there were about twenty. By Apollo 13, there were more than 30 manuals. There is a lot out there.

There needs to be a more developed market to create the demand that will lift the prices of these numerous but historically important documents. A catalogue lisitng everything in private hands would, in my view, greatly expand the collector interest in flown Apollo memorabilia.

But even today EVA patches with moon dust are easy to understand and may bring very high prices.

fabfivefreddy
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posted 05-17-2006 08:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for fabfivefreddy   Click Here to Email fabfivefreddy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Robert, I agree with you on the values of those items. I am also glad that the Apollo 11 patches will never go on the market. They shouldn't.

Hope Pete Conrad's wife gets a good price for his items. They deserve it!

Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-17-2006 08:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Richard:
I seem to recall that in 1999 a person had the federal gov't confiscate a desk set looking for lunar material. The set was chopped up and then returned in little pieces when no material was found. The owner was cleared, but not reembursed.
There was a desk set, which had attached to it a moon rock-shaped acrylic. The owner claimed that when her father worked at NASA, his office mates had gathered material from the bottom of an Apollo moon rock collection box to put inside the desk set's plastic rock, which in turn was presented as a retirement gift. After her father had passed away, the daughter decided to sell the desk set to raise money for her child's college fund.

She brought it to an auction house, which in turn contacted NASA for assistance authenticating the material inside. NASA took the set but informed the auction house and owner that if the material turned out to be of lunar origin, they then would confiscate it. No one, no NASA employee or even any astronaut was ever given the permission to retain or take loose lunar material for themselves or others.

Ultimately, NASA determined it couldn't test the desk set without destroying it and thus returned it to the owner intact. However, without any authentication of the material inside, it was devalued. Furthermore, any attempt to sell it as Apollo moon material could be seen as fraud and were the material inside ever positively identified as lunar, it would be again confiscated by NASA.

When it was offered for sale by Lelands in December 2003, it failed to meet its reserve and did not sell. The utlimate disposition of the desk set is unknown at present.

You can read more about this: Privately-owned lunar samples seized

FFrench
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posted 05-17-2006 09:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FFrench     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Richard:
Funny that you say that, but I believe that something quite close to that took place in the past.

The big difference is the deaccession policy. If Bean was formally given the patches by NASA to do with as he wished, then the matter is resolved (unlike the desk set instance, where there was no such formal process).

SRB
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posted 06-15-2006 02:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SRB   Click Here to Email SRB     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The three lots did not sell today at Sotheby's. Each one failed to meet the undisclosed reserve. Too bad. If these items had sold for these high prices in this unusual setting it would have meant that the high end of the market is broader and deeper than I expected. I wonder if they will appear again in a more traditional setting for space memorabilia.

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