The only existing original recording of Neil Armstrong’s walk on the Moon is set to go up for auction next month, in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing. This is yet another piece of Moon memorabilia to go for sale, as recently the original moon landing instruction manual was put up for this auction.
According to Sotheby’s, the videotape recording has only been viewed three times since June 1976, and transports viewers to Mission Control’s vast big screen monitor, with pristine image clarity and contrast.
Gary George, former NASA intern, purchased the tape unintentionally, in a by-chance bulk purchase of 1150 reels of NASA agency tapes, as part of a government surplus auction.
For $217.77, the tapes were a steal because new reels of Ampex tape costed $260 a piece, and since one could re-record over the existing footage, these tapes could be easily sold to a TV station for a profit.
It was only when George went home, that his father noticed that three of the tape boxes were identified with a small label: “APOLLO 11 EVA | July 20, 1969 REEL 1[-3]” and “VR2000 525 Hi Band 15 ips“. George made the prudent decision to hold on to these tapes…
Many years later in 2008, George was made aware that NASA was trying to locate the original Apollo 11 EVA (Extravehicular Activity) tapes in light of the then upcoming 40th anniversary of the Moon landing. Despite their age, the videotapes were described as “faultless” and displaying “superior” picture quality to other existing contemporary videotapes.
The pre-auction estimate for these videotapes is between $1 million and $2 million dollars, a pretty comfortable return on George’s $217.77 investment.