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  Space auctioneer Michael Orenstein (1939-2012) (Page 1)

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Author Topic:   Space auctioneer Michael Orenstein (1939-2012)

Posts: 23
From: Fairfield,
Registered: Sep 2012

posted 09-22-2012 07:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SClarkson   Click Here to Email SClarkson     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It is with a sad heart that I'm posting the passing of a good friend and mentor, Michael Orenstein.

Michael was responsible for helping to establish the space collector market over 25 years ago. He worked with astronauts, cosmonauts, NASA employees and just about anyone else associated with the various space programs around the world.

Up until a few weeks ago, Michael was preparing Goldberg's December space memorabilia auction. As always he was concerned that the work be completed thoroughly and ahead of schedule.

Well it is put to bed and will be held on schedule. Michael would have it no other way.


Posts: 4437
From: Sierra Vista, Arizona
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 09-22-2012 08:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Tremendous loss to the hobby.



Posts: 853
From: Danville, Ohio
Registered: Dec 2002

posted 09-22-2012 09:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for space1   Click Here to Email space1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Michael's enthusiasm for the hobby always showed through in his careful and thorough work. Rest in peace.

Robert Pearlman

Posts: 42988
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 09-22-2012 10:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Michael was already well-established selling space memorabilia when I called in 1999 asking if I could broadcast his next sale through a newly-founded website called collectSPACE. The live online reporting of hammer prices wasn't very widespread at the time. Other auction houses were not only reluctant to try, but were actively discouraging the activity.

Michael not only agreed, but welcomed my participation, recognizing the potential the web had for enhancing the auction experience.

In 2001, when Michael retired — mind you, he was back in the auction business shortly thereafter and as noted, he never stopped — I described him in an article for this site as the proverbial "man behind the curtain." Fortunately for our community, he didn't stay hidden and his presence was not only felt, but known to us all.

Michael once asked me after one of our early auction webcasts, "How does it feel to be a pioneer?" He was far too kind; he was the pioneer and I was only expanding the path he helped blaze.

My sincere condolences to his family and friends.


Posts: 1499
From: Germany
Registered: May 2000

posted 09-23-2012 12:38 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaceflori   Click Here to Email spaceflori     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

I was shocked to read Michael's email just a few weeks ago telling about his condition and that he's "shooting for the end of the year" with his usual humor.

I'm deeply saddened to read now that he's gone. Michael's work and dedication for our hobby can't be appreciated enough considering in those days when Superior started to do space sales there was no eBay, no collectSPACE, no (real) www-internet, no Twitter, Facebook or anything...

He (along with Alan, Glenn etc.) gave a few spacenuts a haven and a reason to meet two times a year in Beverly Hills and initiated friendships that are still enduring.

When our two kids were born Michael and Linda always sent a box with goodies for them — a great gesture.

Our thoughts go out to his lovely wife Linda along with Michael's family. You are already greatly missed! — Florian, Claudia, Niklas and Romy

spaced out

Posts: 3110
From: Paris, France
Registered: Aug 2003

posted 09-23-2012 02:44 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaced out   Click Here to Email spaced out     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Very sad news. I never met him personally but regularly exchanged mails with him regarding items in upcoming auctions. His efforts and knowledge changed the space collecting hobby for ever.

Rick Mulheirn

Posts: 4167
From: England
Registered: Feb 2001

posted 09-23-2012 03:05 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rick Mulheirn   Click Here to Email Rick Mulheirn     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote


Posts: 2610
From: Brussels, Belgium
Registered: Dec 2000

posted 09-23-2012 03:29 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for eurospace   Click Here to Email eurospace     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Only weeks ago Mike told his regular contacts that the treatment was going well and he'd be taken up appraisal activities again.

Mike was an outstanding example of knowledge and personal integrity. He will be missed by many in the hobby.

Jürgen P Esders
Brussels, Belgium

International Director (Europe), Space Unit
Weltraum Philatelie e. V./BFV Cosmos/AAF/GWP/AAAS/UACC/AdA/Fellow BIS


Posts: 448
From: Naxxar, Malta
Registered: Dec 2010

posted 09-23-2012 05:22 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for alexbaja   Click Here to Email alexbaja     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Steve Zarelli

Posts: 731
From: Upstate New York, USA
Registered: Mar 2001

posted 09-23-2012 06:29 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Steve Zarelli   Click Here to Email Steve Zarelli     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Rest in peace, Michael.


Posts: 1933
From: Fairfax, VA, USA
Registered: Feb 2007

posted 09-23-2012 06:30 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for stsmithva   Click Here to Email stsmithva     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A nice gent who exchanged several long e-mails with me over the last year about some specific current items, but also about his past experiences with space memorabilia. I think he just enjoyed using his knowledge to help me be better informed.


Posts: 2896
From: Titusville, FL USA
Registered: Feb 2005

posted 09-23-2012 06:56 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for KSCartist   Click Here to Email KSCartist     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A passionate advocate for our hobby and a kind and gracious man.

Rest in Peace Michael and thank you.

David Carey

Posts: 782
Registered: Mar 2009

posted 09-23-2012 07:03 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for David Carey   Click Here to Email David Carey     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote


Posts: 1190
From: Northwest Indiana
Registered: Jan 2002

posted 09-23-2012 07:10 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for rjurek349   Click Here to Email rjurek349     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Michael Davis

Posts: 528
From: Houston, Texas
Registered: Aug 2002

posted 09-23-2012 07:29 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Michael Davis   Click Here to Email Michael Davis     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote


Posts: 1096
From: Lincolnshire IL USA
Registered: Aug 2000

posted 09-23-2012 07:41 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for DChudwin   Click Here to Email DChudwin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
While I knew Michael by his reputation and achievements for our hobby, I did not have a chance to really sit down and have a talk with him until the last Spacefest where we had a great conversation about space collecting, market trends, and the auction business. What shone through was Michael's passion, intelligence and integrity. RIP

Joel Katzowitz

Posts: 808
From: Marietta GA USA
Registered: Dec 1999

posted 09-23-2012 07:45 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Joel Katzowitz   Click Here to Email Joel Katzowitz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I never met Michael in person but dealt with him peripherally for many years. As Florian mentioned, Michael's email concerning his illness was done with humility and self effacing humor. Speaking of humor, if you ever got on his joke forwarding email list, watch out. He regularly blew up my inbox with laughter.

He will be missed.


Posts: 281
From: Belleville, IL
Registered: Jun 2011

posted 09-23-2012 08:00 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for bwhite1976   Click Here to Email bwhite1976     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote


Posts: 2476
From: Guyton, GA
Registered: Jan 2006

posted 09-23-2012 08:11 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for GACspaceguy   Click Here to Email GACspaceguy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
He will be greatly missed. He helped us so many time with evaluations and auction items.


Posts: 586
From: Germany
Registered: Apr 2005

posted 09-23-2012 08:58 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for East-Frisian     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote


Posts: 691
From: Salzburg, Austria
Registered: Jun 2003

posted 09-23-2012 10:19 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cosmos-walter   Click Here to Email cosmos-walter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote


Posts: 3398
From: London, UK
Registered: Feb 2002

posted 09-23-2012 11:05 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for gliderpilotuk   Click Here to Email gliderpilotuk     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Dave Clow

Posts: 236
From: South Pasadena, CA 91030
Registered: Nov 2003

posted 09-23-2012 11:45 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dave Clow   Click Here to Email Dave Clow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Very sorry to hear this. he was one of the professors on the space collecting faculty for me, and a warm, smart man.

uk spacefan

Posts: 168
From: London
Registered: Jan 2007

posted 09-23-2012 12:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for uk spacefan   Click Here to Email uk spacefan     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

413 is in

Posts: 628
From: Alexandria, VA USA
Registered: May 2006

posted 09-23-2012 01:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 413 is in   Click Here to Email 413 is in     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote


Posts: 2121
From: Essex, UK
Registered: Jul 2001

posted 09-23-2012 02:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for nasamad   Click Here to Email nasamad     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Jerry Brouillette

Posts: 147
From: Louviers, CO
Registered: Jul 2006

posted 09-23-2012 02:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jerry Brouillette   Click Here to Email Jerry Brouillette     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote


Posts: 212
From: Merseyside, England
Registered: Oct 2004

posted 09-23-2012 02:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for rjb1elec   Click Here to Email rjb1elec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote


Posts: 1168
From: Tucson, AZ
Registered: Jan 2009

posted 09-23-2012 03:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Spacefest   Click Here to Email Spacefest     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote


Posts: 719
From: Albany, Oregon
Registered: Jul 2006

posted 09-23-2012 03:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mach3valkyrie   Click Here to Email mach3valkyrie     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote


Posts: 1506
From: Beverly Hills, Calif.
Registered: Nov 2000

posted 09-23-2012 04:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for chet   Click Here to Email chet     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Having seen and spoken with him not that long ago, and how optimistic (yet realistic) he was, I'm so saddened how quickly he has gone.

Not just a credit to his profession, he was what Jewish people call a real mensch.

Condolences to his family; space collectors have lost THE pioneer of our hobby, and the world a warm and lovely gentleman.


Posts: 2732
From: Stuart, Florida
Registered: Jun 2000

posted 09-23-2012 04:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for albatron   Click Here to Email albatron     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Having known Michael for many years I was upset when he told me of his illness at the last Spacefest. So I made a concerted effort to spend as much time with him as I could.

I'm glad I did now.

RIP Michael.

Ken Havekotte

Posts: 2915
From: Merritt Island, Florida, Brevard
Registered: Mar 2001

posted 09-23-2012 05:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Sad news indeed as I didn't know Michael would go so quickly once I heard of his illness. My heart-felt sympathy and condolences to his family and close friends.

Michael and I first met more than 20 years ago when we had dinner together during his first Florida Space Coast visit in Cocoa Beach.

We discussed this "new arena" of space collecting as Michael had a vision and the foresight in putting aerospace memorabilia
into the mainstream of national and worldwide auction gallery spotlight offerings.

At the time, Superior Galleries in Beverly Hills, CA, mostly concentrated on rare postal stamps, covers, and coins.

During the early 1990s, Michael was the first that I can recall in wanting to include astronaut-owned space lots as a part of his firms's auction sales.

It was Michael Orenstein that took the risk and leadership to include and expand space memorabilia as a primary collecting topic.

For that, in my book, he will always be remembered as a pioneer in this new but rising market frontier.

Some 25 or so years later, thanks to Michael and Superior, space memorabilia has been/is a vital part of many major auction house galleries.

Thanks, Michael, and forever rest in peace.


Posts: 691
From: Monticello, KY USA
Registered: Mar 2007

posted 09-23-2012 07:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for jasonelam   Click Here to Email jasonelam     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote


Posts: 818
From: Huntington Beach, Calif.
Registered: Aug 2004

posted 09-23-2012 08:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Spacepsycho   Click Here to Email Spacepsycho     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm so sad to hear of Michael's passing. Besides being a tremendous wealth of knowledge in so many fields, more importantly he was a mensch, a very nice human being who had a great sense of humor.

I sold 100+ rare aviation / military items when Michael was at Superior. While in their offices writing descriptions for a few days, I was in awe of Michael's energy, attention to detail and ability to coordinate every artifact. Watching him work gave me an appreciation for his dedication to every client and artifact.

My deepest condolences to his lovely wife and family. The world is a poorer place without him and he will be greatly missed by those who had the pleasure of knowing him.

God Speed Michael



Posts: 953
From: South Bend, IN
Registered: Apr 2002

posted 09-23-2012 09:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaceman1953   Click Here to Email spaceman1953     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Boy, you all really, really miss him and his efforts. While I frequently enjoyed the catalogs produced by his work, I never met him or talked with him on the phone.

My sincere condolences to his family and friends, including all of you here on collectSPACE.

Gene Bella


Posts: 587
From: Michigan
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 09-24-2012 10:51 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for lunareagle   Click Here to Email lunareagle     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Rest in Peace Michael. You were a good friend and always a great help. I will miss you.



Posts: 649
From: Sacramento, CA
Registered: Jun 2001

posted 09-24-2012 11:31 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for sts205cdr   Click Here to Email sts205cdr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Alan Lipkin

Posts: 78
From: Beverly Hills, CA USA
Registered: Mar 2006

posted 09-24-2012 12:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Alan Lipkin   Click Here to Email Alan Lipkin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Goodbye Michael, I am sure they have outstanding bagels where you are going.

Michael hired me to work at Superior in June of 1993, I thought to work on stamp auctions but soon learned that Space Memorabilia was really his favorite area. I was expected to dive in and learn that as well. Mike and I had breakfast at Factor's Deli in Beverly Hills together at 7:00AM every morning that we both worked at Superior for eleven years. If you really want to get to know someone, have breakfast with him for that many years and have a desk next to him for eight to ten hours a day as well.

Mike was a self-admitted workaholic and insisted on perfection and quality in our catalogs and our dealings with clients. A tough taskmaster as well as the best of friends to have.

He felt that the space auctions were his "baby" and spent all the extra hours needed to cement friendships and business relationships in the space collecting area. Many of his friends continue to be friends of mine. We will all miss him greatly.

One of Mike's real beliefs was that his catalogs were reference works that would be used for generations of future collectors. His early Superior catalogs had whole sections in them on Space History, flight numbers, astronaut records, etc. I never could have learned all I know without these resources.

It will be hard not having Mike to call for opinions and advice. He was always free with his knowledge, even after we became friendly competitors.

He will be missed.


Posts: 1328
From: Carrollton, GA USA
Registered: Jan 2003

posted 09-24-2012 02:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Gilbert   Click Here to Email Gilbert     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

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