NEW YORK — Buzz Aldrin's jacket worn on his historic first mission to the moon's surface in 1969 has been auctioned off to a bidder for nearly $2.8 million.
The $2,772,500 paid for the Apollo 11 Inflight Coverall Jacket is the highest for any American space-flown artifact sold at auction, according to Sotheby's, which handled the sale. The unidentified winning bidder, who participated by phone, outlasted several others in a bidding that spanned almost 10 minutes.
The jacket displays Aldrin’s name tag on the left breast above the Apollo 11 mission emblem, and the American flag on the left shoulder. It is made of a fire-resistant material known as Beta cloth that was incorporated in spacesuits in response to the fire that killed three astronauts aboard Apollo 1 in 1967, according to Sotheby's.
Aldrin and Neil Armstrong became the first astronauts to walk on the moon on July 20, 1969.
"Neil Armstrong's complete in flight cover-all garment: jacket, trousers and boots are at the Smithsonian. Mike Collins jacket, trousers and boots are at the Smithsonian. Buzz's trousers and boots are at the Smithsonian. And that means that this jacket is the only garment worn on the Apollo 11 mission that can be owned privately," said Cassandra Hatton, Sotheby's Global Head of Science and Popular Culture.
Also on offer by Sotheby's is a pen used by Aldrin to fix a broken circuit breaker switch on the Apollo 11 mission. The company's presale estimate is $1 million to $2 million.
"By some kind of miracle, the diameter of (the pen's) plastic tip was the same as the diameter of the switch, and it fit perfectly in that hole and armed the engine and saved their lives," Hatton said.
Val Lick contributed.