The lunar samples originally belonged to Nina Ivanovna Koroleva, the widow of the former Soviet director of the space program.
Three fragments of rocks, recovered from the moon by the Soviet space mission in 1970, were sold for $ 855,000 at a New York auction on Thursday.
The auction house Sotheby & # 39; s said that "moon rocks" are the only known documented lunar material in private hands. They were put up for sale by an unidentified private American collector, who bought them at auction in 1993 for $ 442,500.
Sotheby & # 39; s said that the buyer on Thursday was another privately owned American collector, but the name was not disclosed.
The auction house said before selling that fragments ranging in size from about 0.79 inches x 0.709 inches (2 x 2 mm) to 0.39 inches x 0.40 inches (1 x 1 mm) can be received up to $ 1 million.
The original lunar samples belonged to Nina Ivanovna Koroleva, the widow of the former Soviet director of the space program, Sergei Pavlovich Korolev. They were presented to her as a gift on behalf of the Soviet Union in recognition of her husband’s contribution to the program, Sotheby said.
The particles were removed in September 1970 by the unmanned Luna-16, which drilled a hole in the surface to a depth of 13.8 inches (35 cm) and extracted a core sample, the auction house said in a statement.
Most of the other known samples taken from the moon remain with two objects they formed: the United States during the Apollo 11-17 missions and the Soviet Union through the unmanned missions Luna-16, Luna-20 and Luna-24.
Collectors pay huge sums for space artifacts. Last year, Sotheby & # 39; s sold with a zipper a bag with the inscription "Return of the lunar sample", covered with moon dust, which Neil Armstrong used for the first manned mission to the Moon in 1969 for $ 1.8 million.