The only camera to return from NASA’s Moon missions between 1969 and 1972 has been sold at auction in Vienna for 550,000 euros ($835,000), far outdoing its estimated price.
The boxy silver-coloured camera, which was sold to a telephone bidder, was initially valued at between 150,000 and 200,000 euros.
The Hasselblad model was one of 14 cameras sent to the Moon as part of NASA’s Apollo 11-17 missions but was the only one to be brought back.
As a rule, the cameras – which weighed several kilos and could be attached to the front of a space suit – were abandoned to allow the astronauts to bring back Moon rock, with 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, the owner of the Westlicht gallery which 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 between July and August 1971.
A small plate inside is engraved with the number 38, the same number that appears on Mr Irwin’s NASA snapshots.
Close to 600 objects were on sale on Saturday.
The Westlicht gallery is the world’s largest auction house for cameras and 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 euros, a world record.