Apollo 15 moon mission camera sold in Vienna auction for HK$5.9 million

PUBLISHED : Monday, 24 March, 2014, 4:51am
UPDATED : Monday, 24 March, 2014, 4:51am


The only camera to return from Nasa's moon missions from 1969 to 1972 has been sold at an auction in Vienna for €550,000 (HK$5.9 million), far exceeding its estimated price.

The boxy silver-coloured camera, which was sold to a telephone bidder, was initially valued at €150,000 to €200,000.

The Hasselblad model was one of 14 cameras sent to the moon as part of the Apollo 11 to 17 missions but was the only one to be brought back.

As a rule, the cameras - which weighed several kilogrammes and could be attached to the front of a space suit - were abandoned to allow the astronauts to bring back moon rock, weight being a prime concern on the missions.

"It has moon dust on it … I don't think any other camera has that," said Peter Coeln, owner of the Westlicht gallery that organised the auction.

The camera, which was being sold by a private collector, was used by astronaut Jim Irwin to take 299 pictures during the Apollo 15 mission in 1971. A small plate inside is engraved with the number 38, the same number that appears on Irwin's Nasa snapshots.

The Westlicht gallery has overseen the sale of some of the most expensive photographic equipment in history, including a 1923 Leica camera prototype that sold for €2.16 million, a world record.