The jacket worn by retired astronaut Buzz Aldrin when he set foot on the moon sold for a record-breaking price of $2,772,500 on Tuesday, less than a week after the landing’s 53rd anniversary.
The in-flight coverall jacket features the historic Apollo 11 mission emblem and “E. Aldrin” for his full first name, Edwin. It is made of a fireproof, tightly woven silica fiber called Beta Cloth used in the production of Apollo spaceflight suits.
The sale, which took place at Sotheby’s in New York, made the garment the most expensive jacket sold at auction, as well as the most valuable American artifact flown in space, according to a statement from the auction house.
The jacket was part of a trove of personal memorabilia and historic NASA items from his career and was expected to fetch up to $2 million. The garment was bid on for nearly 10 minutes, according to Sotheby’s. It is the only flown garment from the Apollo 11 mission in private hands – the jackets worn by fellow crew members Neil Armstrong and Michael Collins are both now housed at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.
The 92-year-old Aldrin became the second person to ever set foot on the moon in 1969, following crewmate Armstrong.
Among the other items sold were flight plans from Apollo 11, including a complete summary of the mission, which sold for $819,000, over five times its high estimate, as well as a summary of the touchdown of the lunar module Eagle, which sold for $327,600, over six times its high estimate. The collection also included a fire extinguisher flown aboard the lunar module, several medals of service including a Congressional Gold Medal presented to Aldrin in 2011, and a famed MTV Video Music Award “moonman” statuette whose likeness was based on Aldrin.
Ahead of the sale, a statement from Sotheby’s said the items in the collection were “among the most significant and valuable space exploration artifacts ever offered at auction.”
In a press statement, Aldrin said that the collection represents the “summation” of his career as an astronaut.
“After deep consideration, the time felt right to share these items with the world, which for many are symbols of a historical moment, but for me have always remained personal mementos of a life dedicated to science and exploration,” the former astronaut said, adding: “I hope that this collection offers some insight into what it has been like to be Buzz Aldrin.”