CLEVELAND – It’s just a year ago that a thief broke into the Armstrong Air and Space Museum in Ohio and stole an 18-carat gold replica of the Apollo 11 lunar module and other artifacts that still need to be repaired or suspects arrested.
The replica’s are made by Cartier were given to Neil Armstrong, the first person to step onto the lunar surface, and to fellow astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins in Paris after their historic 1969 moon trip. The theft of the Armstrong museum in There led to the fear that it would be melted down for the gold value, which is still around the $40,000.
The 5-inch (12.7 cm) replica given to Aldrin sold at auction in November last year for nearly $150,000.
There the police chief Calvin Schneider, a native son of Armstrong’s hometown in western Ohio, called the theft was a “blow.” He said that an FBI analysis of the evidence gathered after the theft last July may be useful in tracking the suspects.
“Once we get something back from the lab, we have come closer to the truth,” Schneider said.
The museum’s interim director, Brittany Venturella, said the lunar module was one of the more than 2,000 artifacts on display or stored in the museum.
Joseph Gutheinz Jr., a former NASA researcher who has contributed to the restoration of priceless moon rocks brought back from space, called the theft a “disgrace.” He suggests that those involved were probably not sophisticated thieves, and probably had it melted down for the gold value. The auction that sold the replica given to Aldrin said it weighed 1.8 pounds (0.8 kg), or approximately 29 grams.
What struck Gutheinz is that the thieves do not steal a large moon rock from the museum, that would be much more value on the black market and would be easier to sell.
“To walk through that to go for something else is incredible,” he said.
There is about 90 miles (145 km) northwest of Columbus. Armstrong died in 2012 at age 82.