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Solid gold Apollo 11 lunar module replica stolen from Armstrong museum in Ohio

On Friday thieves broke into the Neil Armstrong Museum in Ohio and stole a solid gold miniature replica of the Apollo ll lunar module that had been one of three gifted to the three astronauts in Paris during their post-flight world tour.

Police responded to a burglary alarm at the Armstrong Air and Space Museum in Wapakoneta, Ohio, shortly before midnight on Friday (July 28), where the 18 karat gold, five-inch-high (13 centimeter) miniature lunar lander was found missing. “Entry to the museum was discovered and taken was a solid gold replica of the 1969 Lunar Excursion Module that landed on the moon,” Russel Hunlock, Wapakoneta police chief, stated in a release. “The piece is very rare as it was presented to Neil Armstrong in Paris, France shortly after the moon landing.”

I am not hopeful the replica will be recovered. It was obviously stolen for its gold, and I would expect the thieves to quickly break it apart and melt the gold down for sale.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit. If you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and the author gets a bigger cut much sooner.

The audiobook is also available at all these vendors, and is also free with a 30-day trial membership to Audible.

"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News


  • wayne

    This is sad stuff.

    Sounds similar to the recent theft of a massive gold coin issued by the Royal Canadian Mint, stolen from a museum in Germany.
    (100 kilograms of 999.99 purity gold. Perpetrators have been arrested. German authorities believe it has already been melted down and shipped out of Germany.)

    On a slightly more upbeat note–

    That woman who bought the moon rock collection bag from the GSA sale, only to be hounded later on by the Feds, sold it at auction recently for $1.4 million.

  • wayne

    excuse me…. it was “$1,812,500”

    “The moon dust-stained “lunar sample return” pouch, which Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong used to store a small “contingency” cache of material from Tranquility Base, sold for $1,812,500 million at Sotheby’s New York on Thursday (July 20), the 48th anniversary of the Apollo 11 first moon landing. The bag’s sale was part of Sotheby’s first auction to focus on artifacts from NASA’s space missions.”

  • wayne

    btw– for pictures of, and prices realized at, the July 20th Sotheby’s “Space Exploration” auction, visit–

    way cool– the “flown flight-plan for Apollo 13” signed by all 3 astronaut’s and with extensive doodling & artwork, went for $275K.

  • Ron

    My recollection is that none of the artifacts from the moon was to be possessed by the astronauts. The astronauts are paid for their services by tax payers. The “contingency” cache constitutes theft and any money generated from the sale of such for private ownership should be returned to tax payers.

  • wayne

    Slight correction:
    The federal government, in it’s infinite wisdom and efficiency, sold the (empty) sample return bag as scrap, at a public GSA auction, 2-3 years ago.
    A woman bid $950 for it, won that auction, and took it home. Later on the feds decided they wanted it back and sued the woman. The Judge ruled she bought it legally and it was hers.
    No astronaut’s involved in, or received money from, this specific transaction.

  • wayne

    Just to be clear, none of the astronaut’s that walked on the Moon, pilfered any rocks for clandestine sale, at a later date.

    Check out this site, for an idea of what sorta “souvenir type stuff” was taken into space and/or to the surface of the Moon. (It’s not a complete listing, but it’s close.)

    One of the few items that is even within reach of most collectors; flight flown Medallions, which number in the 100’s per flight, and the Astronaut’s paid their own money to have them made. (They go for $10-30K each at auction.)


    and I’m seeing a “Lunar Surface Safety Line” from Apollo 14, ( originally 100 feet long) that was supposed to have been jettisoned and not returned.

    “After the mission, it was decided to use the surface-carried safety line in order to produce mementos of the flight to thank staff at the KSC for their efforts on the Apollo program. The line was cut into one inch lengths which were laminated onto 3¾” x 2½” presentation cards bearing the name of the person they were being awarded to. The cards were distributed with a thank you letter from the crew. Up to 1,200 of these presentation cards were produced by NASA. Despite this large number, very few examples actually appear for sale. This, combined with the fact that they are probably the only lunar surface EVA-carried artifacts available for less than five figures, means that they sell very well, fetching anywhere between $350 to $1016 at auction in recent years, with one exceptional case selling for $1969 in the January 2011 RRAuction Space sale.”

  • wayne

    on the other hand—

    If you find a 1933 $20 dollar “Double Eagle” gold piece, call me immediately, and keep your mouth shut!$80-million

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