A moon dust bag that was carried by Neil Armstrong on the Apollo 11 expedition in the year 1969 for collecting moon rocks and samples was sold privately at an auction for $1.8 Million in New York. This week, the world woke up to the news that a priceless artifact was stolen from the Armstrong Air and Space Museum, which is located in Ohio.

The solid gold Moon Lander replica, which was 5-inches tall, was specially made by Cartier and was gifted to Neil after the Apollo 11 expedition in 1969. The glass case which housed the replica was found empty by the security guards at Armstrong’s museum after an alarm summoned them to go and check on the priceless artefacts.

The other priceless artifacts in the museum

The museum also houses moon rocks which were picked up as samples by Neil Armstrong during his expedition, which are worth millions of dollars. The thieves either could not find their way to the moon rocks or were not aware of their value. The moon lander replica was the only thing missing.

Ex-agent with NASA hopes the thieves have preserved the replica

Joseph Gutheinz Jr. who is currently an attorney in Texas and was an ex-federal agent with NASA believes that the thieves just wanted to make a quick buck by selling the gold the replica was made from. If that is the case, then he fears that they might have melted the several million-dollars worth replica to sell it on the market.

To a space enthusiast or artifact collector the worth of the replica would be in millions, but to a petty thief it would just seem like an object which was made out of gold. Gutheinz earlier worked with NASA to recover the moon rocks from the Apollo 17 mission, which were stolen from the government of Honolulu. He went undercover to retrieve the rocks from an auctioneer who was ready to sell them to him for $1.5 million.

Reuters reported on August 1 that the case is being investigated by the FBI and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations along with the help of the local police. Gutheinz hopes that the thieves realize the worth of the preserved artefact and not destroy it by melting it.

When was the replica gifted to the legendary astronaut?

The moon lander replica was given to the three astronauts, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins after they visited France after the Apollo 11 expedition in 1969. The French paper Le Figario called on people to donate whatever amount possible so that this memorabilia could be presented to the astronauts. Each replica had the name of the contributors on it with the amount they had contributed.