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The Clearest Recordings of the First Moon Landing Sold for $1.82 Million

Plus: the photo archives of Ebony and Jet magazines have found their buyer, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York has acquired 45 new pieces.

“Original, First-Generation NASA Videotape Recordings of the Apollo 11 Lunar EVA” (1969) (image courtesy Sotheby’s)

The Sotheby’s Space Exploration Auction — comprised of photographs, tapes, models, and other pieces of NASA memorabilia from the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo missions of the ’50s, ’60s, and early ’70s crested to a total of $5.5 million. The sale was timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission and was led by the “Best Surviving NASA Videotape Recordings of
The Apollo 11 Moon Landing” (1969), which sold for $1.82 million to an anonymous buyer. Recorded in the evening on July 20, 1969, the three reels of 2-inch Quadruplex videotape have only been played back three times since 1976 and are the sharpest, clearest known recordings of the historic event’s broadcast.

“Earthrise” (1968). Signed and inscribed by 21 astronauts and cosmonauts, and one mission control director, including a moonwalker from each lunar landed mission, the first woman in space, and the first spacewalker. (image courtesy Sotheby’s)
“Lunar Surface Flown Film Mag ‘S’ Label, 1st ALS to Be Written on the Moon, and Crew Signed Presentation” (collage image courtesy of Sotheby’s)

Christie’s had a sale of its own of artifacts from the same period, One Giant Leap: Celebrating Space Exploration 50 Years after Apollo 11, which totaled at $907,000. The top lot on its list was “Flown on Apollo 11” (1969), the flight plan for mission that first landed astronauts on the moon.

A Sotheby’s and Stadium Goods sale of The Ultimate Sneaker Collection saw 99 of its 100 lots sold in a private sale. The last remaining lot, Nike’s “Nike Waffle Flat, Moon Shoe” (1972), sold for a total of $437,500, setting the world record for a sneakers sold at auction. It’s one of only a few pairs of the shoe that still exist, and is, according to the catalogue note, “one of the most significant artifacts in the history of the multi-billion dollar athletic brand.” The previous record for most expensive shoes were the Converses Michael Jordan wore during the 1984 Olympics, which sold for $190,373 in 2017.

The Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern Art sale closed with a sale total of more than $1.13 million across 98 lots. The top receipt: Henri Matisse’s “Nu Debout” (1930), a pencil-on-paper sketch of a nude woman, which sold for $150,000.

The photo archives of Ebony and Jet magazines — two of the most important publishers of stories about the lives of African-Americans — were sold for $30 million to a group of four foundations after a period of uncertainty surrounding their future. The archive is a significant record of Black American history in the 20th century, with four million prints and negatives in the total collection. The foundations behind the deal are the Ford Foundation, The J. Paul Getty Trust, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The archives will be donated to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture and the Getty Research Institute for the benefit of the American public.

Chéri Samba, “Water Problem” (2004). Acrylic on canvas, 53 1/8 × 78 3/4″ (135 × 200 cm). (The Museum of Modern Art, New York. CAAC – The Pigozzi Collection. Promised gift of Jean Pigozzi, 2019.) (Photo courtesy CAAC – The Pigozzi Collection)

The Museum of Modern Art in New York has acquired 45 works of African contemporary art from the collection of Jean Pigozzi, holder of one of the world’s largest collections of African art. The donation includes pieces by Bodys Isek Kingelez, Seydou Keïta, Chéri Samba, and several other artists — spanning sculpture, painting, drawings, photography, and a pictographic alphabet by Frédéric Bruly Bouabré.

The Dallas Museum of Art has acquired Francisco Moreno’s painting installation, “The Chapel,” which was originally shown in the exhibition Francisco Moreno: Chapel and Accompanying Works. Moreno’s piece, which viewers can step inside, is composed of a single-panel painting accompanied by a kaleidoscope of imagery depicting figures from art history as well as references to Moreno’s heritage.

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