This year marks the 50th anniversary of NASA’s Apollo 11 Moon landing and we have already seen plenty of highly collectible items from the Moon mission ready to change hands at various auctions, including the extremely rare camera film roll with pictures of the lunar landing and original instruction manual for the landing module. Most of these items are expected to fetch top dollar at the auctions. So it’s natural for the original videotapes that captured the first Moon landing to be just as valuable if not more. However, NASA got rid of those tapes in the 70s in the most ridiculous and silliest way possible. The story goes like this: Back in June of 1976, NASA sold a bunch of videotapes at a government surplus auction at Ellington Air Force Base in Houston, Texas. An Intern at the Johnson Space Center by the name of Gary George bought 1,150 reels of magnetic video tapes for just $217.77 with the intention of selling them to news stations to record over for $50 a pop.
Without watching the tapes George flipped many of the reels in the lot and sold them off to local TV stations in the area. “I had no idea there was anything of value on them,” George said in an interview with Reuters. However, his dad was a space buff and kept three of the tapes marked as “Apollo 11 EVA” (aka Extravehicular Activity, better known as a spacewalk). On watching the three tapes, he realized how incredibly valuable they are. The tapes, which the Sotheby’s auction listing describes as “the earliest, sharpest, and most accurate surviving video images of man’s first steps on the Moon,” are expected to fetch a price close to $700,000. The auction is scheduled to begin on July 20th, the Moon landing anniversary.