Neil Armstrong's Solid Gold Moon Lander Replica Stolen From Museum
It's been a bad couple of weeks for priceless artifacts from
On Friday , security at the Armstrong Air & Space Museum in Wapakoneta, Ohio, was summoned by an alarm and found a display case that housed the replica empty. The 5-inch-tall moon lander was the only thing stolen.
In 1969, the French newspaper Le Figaro asked its readers to contribute funds to a special tribute to NASA's astronauts following the successful Apollo 11 landing on the moon. Three exacting reproductions of the Lunar Excursion Module that was used on that mission were created by Cartier and gifted in-person to Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins. A piece of microfilm was attached to the base of each model that contained the names of all the readers who'd donated "10 francs, 20 francs, [or] whatever they could afford."
According to NPR , Cartier bought back the model that was given to Collins in a 2003 auction, paying $56,000 in order to place it in its own permanent collection . The model that was gifted to Armstrong was entrusted to his museum that was built in his hometown in 1973. In a statement , Wapakoneta police said that the "value of such an item cannot be determined" and no information has been given relating to whether the thieves were captured on security cameras.
One man who considers the artifact to be priceless is Texas attorney and retired federal agent with NASA
Joseph Gutheinz Jr.
, who tells the
that he fears the thieves may have already melted the piece down strictly to get its
The FBI and Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation are working with local police to locate the item.
The museum wrote in a statement on Facebook , "the truth is that you can't steal from a museum." Taking a philosophical outlook, administrators said, "Theft from a museum is a theft from all of us... For every day that an item is missing, we are all robbed of an opportunity to enjoy it and our history."