Only one man is able to be the first to walk on the moon. Now, a auction, that is, as in the singular. On July 20, Sotheby’s will auction a bag with traces of moon dust, which is a Chicago-area woman arrested for $995, and which is expected to sell for a whopping $4 million.
It is an extreme price which suits the extreme story behind the bag, which Neil Armstrong used to store moon rocks collected from the moon of the Apollo 11 landing.
The bag complicated history includes the 2003 FBI raid on the home of Max Ary, the former director of a Kansas space museum. The Wall Street Journal reports the director was convicted of theft tied to the auction of a number of NASA artifacts, and his possessions were seized, with a number of auctioned off for a refund—which is when the goof happened.
How Ary ended with the bag is still a bit murky, but what is clear is that the government auctioned off as “one flown zippered lunar sample return bag with lunar dust (“Moon-Bag”), 11.5 cm; crack in the middle. Flown Mission Unknown,” and Nancy Lee Carlson bragged.
The Sotheby’s listing explains Carlson wanted to learn more about her bag’s history, so she sent to NASA, officials there realized what had happened and refused to return until a judge forced them earlier this year.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime event, Sotheby’s Cassandra Hatton, tells the Chicago Tribunethat explains why: This could be the only private object of its kind in the world, at least as far as legally sold lunar objects.
Carlson plans to donate some proceeds to charity and set up a scholarship at her alma mater, Northern Michigan University. (This widow can complain about NASA’s brutal sting operation of her.)
This article originally appeared on Newser: NASA’s Goof Could Mean $4M Windfall for Illinois Woman