A former NASA intern who paid $218 for a box of Apollo 11 tapes in 1976 had a huge payday when they were auctioned off for more than 8,000 times that amount – a whopping $1.8 million.
Sotheby’s handled the sale in the Big Apple on Saturday to a private bidder on behalf of Gary George, a Las Vegas engineer who was a college student when he bought more than 1,100 reel-to-reel tapes from NASA during a surplus auction.
He had planned to sell them to TV stations for recording stock until his father noticed three tapes labeled “Apollo 11 EVA” and dated July 20, 1969, Sotheby’s said.
George discovered the content of the tapes when NASA announced in 2008 it was seeking missing recordings for the moonwalk’s 40th anniversary.
The space agency officials explained they were searching for the original 14-track tapes made from data relayed to ground stations in California and Australia.
George kept the tapes for another 10 years while waiting for the moon landing’s 50th anniversary Saturday.
The tapes, which span 2 hours and 24 minutes, do not have any unseen footage and were likely recorded from video converted to a broadcast TV format, NASA said.
“The present videotapes are the only surviving first-generation recordings of the historic moonwalk, and are sharper and more distinct than the few tapes that have survived from the contemporary network television broadcasts,” Sotheby’s said.
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