The Right Stuff, But Whose Stuff? NASA, Astronauts Tussle Over Items Sold by Heritage.
Jim Lovell's Apollo 13 checklist, which sold in November but remains in a Dallas safe
Back on November 30, our cross-the-street neighbors at Heritage Auctions dispatched a celebratory missive headlined: "Apollo 13 checklist brings $388,375 at Heritage Auctions in Dallas." (Note to self: Time to clean out in-box.) But if you check Heritage's website, the listing for the historic artifact, kept by Jim Lovell during the moonshot that wasn't made even more famous by Ron Howard and Tom Hanks, now reads: "Sold for: Not Sold." The reason: NASA's contesting the ownership of that particular item and others made available at the end of November during Heritage's Space Signature® Auction.
That's per an Associated Press account out of Miami in which NASA chief Charles Bolden says there have been "fundamental misunderstandings and unclear policies" about who owns astronauts' keepsakes, following one lawsuit filed by the agency in Miami in which NASA contested ownership of a video cam Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell took to the moon. "These are American heroes, fellow astronauts, and personal friends who have acted in good faith," says Bolden, "and we have committed to work together to find the right policy and legal paths forward to address outstanding ownership questions."
The AP piece says Lovell's notebook, as well as items from Rusty Schweickart and Alan Shepard also auctioned off in November, are staying in Dallas till they get this whole thing sorted out.
Heritage's spokesman Noah Fleisher tells Unfair Park that the auction house isn't getting in the middle of the tussle between the astronauts and NASA. But he will confirm: "The stuff is still here in the vault at HA, pending resolution; same with the sale status."
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Observer's biggest stories.