MYSTERY WIRE — It’s an auction that’s out of this world – Christie’s in New York is putting a treasure trove of space rocks under the hammer this month, including one of the largest lunar slices on Earth. In a move to attract buyers, almost all the lots are being offered with no reserve.

Christie’s is putting some otherworldly items up for sale. This month, the auction house is holding its annual sale of lunar, Martian and rare meteorites.

One of the highlights is this “Spectacular Oriented Stone” meteorite, that didn’t tumble or invert as it plunged to Africa’s Sahara Desert.

As a result, the surface that faced Earth now features almost sculptural elongated flight marks.

“In my mind, and I think in most people’s mind, it’s sort of the archetypal image of a meteorite,” says James Hyslop, head of Christie’s science and natural history department.

Christie’s auction house sale coordinator Gillian Hawley shows meteorites from Mars in New York on Monday, February 8, 2021. The meteorites are being auctioned online. (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey)

“We’ve all seen Hollywood, the meteorite plowing towards Earth. And in the movies, it’s never tumbling chaotically, it’s always just coming at you in a single direction aggressively. And when it does it, it just looks like this ideal that we have, not only is it rare, but it just creates something special and desirable.”

Other highlights include this slice of lunar rock, claimed to be the fourth largest cut and polished slice of the moon.

The rock from which it was cut was discovered in Mali in December 2019, the slice measures about 40 centimetres in length and is estimated to fetch up to $350,000 USD.

“The rock from which this was cut is larger than any of the rocks brought back by the Apollo missions,” says Hyslop.

“It was a 40-kilogram rock that this was cut from. And it’s been sliced, one, so that scientists are able to study it, this is quite a rare type of lunar meteorite and lunar meteorites are pretty rare in themselves, and just because of the size of it four huge slices have been able to be made.”

This chemically primitive CM2 meteorite, called “Cold Bokkeveld”, was part of a meteorite that fell to South Africa in 1838.

It holds pre-solar grains formed long before our own solar system came into existence, meaning it contains some of the “oldest matter mankind can touch”, says Christie’s.

“These meteorites contain elements that existed before anything that we’ll ever be able to encounter,” says Hyslop.

The auction, staged online due to the coronavirus pandemic, opened for bidding on Tuesday (February 4) and will close on Tuesday, February 23. It includes a dozen lunar and Martian rocks.

Hyslop says they often see 50 to 60 percent of bids come through in the last 24 hours of online auctions.

Of the 75 lots, 72 are being offered with no reserve, estimates start from $250 USD.

“Who wouldn’t want to hold a piece of another world in your hand? I mean, it is quite a humbling experience to hold something that we know is otherworldly and demand is hugely international,” says Hyslop.

Select highlights of the sale are on view at Christie’s New York until February 10, by appointment only.