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Press Release - May 25, 2021

Apollo 11-Flown American Flag and Mission Patch Leads $1.8 Million Heritage Space Exploration Auction

One-of-a-kind presentation piece lands $137,500 winning bid


Apollo 11 Lunar Module Flown American Flag
DALLAS, Texas (May 25, 2019) — An American flag and embroidered mission insignia patch from the private collection of NASA's first Flight Director soared to $137,500, more than doubling its pre-auction estimate, to lead Heritage Auctions' Space Exploration Auction to $1,819,639 in total sales May 21-22.

"This was an extraordinary sale, with sell-through rates of 96.2% by value and 98.2% by lots sold,” Heritage Auctions Space Exploration Director Michael Riley said. "The flag and patch that led the event represent a one-of-a-kind piece of space history. Bidders also actively pursued items from the personal collection of former Johnson Space Center Director Chris Kraft, many of which sailed far beyond their pre-auction estimates.

"The significance and historical importance of lots like these explain why the demand for elite space exploration collectibles has continued to skyrocket at Heritage Auctions.”

The Apollo 11 Lunar Module Flown American Flag and Embroidered (!) Mission Insignia Patch as Presented to and Directly from the Estate of NASA Legend Chris Kraft, in Framed Display, with Certificate of Authenticity that led the auction came from the private collection of Kraft, the Director of the Johnson Space Center for a decade during a crucial time in NASA's history, and the man who came up with the concept of NASA's Mission Control … which now bears his name. He later oversaw the development of the Space Shuttle program.

Highlights from the Kraft collection included, but were not limited to:

· His Personal Western Electric "Bell System 52" Headset as Used on the First Manned Mercury Missions, Directly from His Estate, with Extensive Photographic Provenance and Certificate of Authenticity drew 19 bids before climbing to $32,500, nearly 10 times its pre-auction estimate. Dubbed "the headset that launched America into space," this 1950s vintage telephone operator's headset, fully adjustable with one earpiece (bearing Dymo label "C.C. KRAFT") and attached microphone, was the one Kraft wore while communicating with astronauts on space missions, and it was of significant personal importance to him.

· An Apollo 11: Collection of Eight Vintage NASA "Red Number" Color Photos, Directly from the Estate of NASA Legend Chris Kraft, with Certificate of Authenticity, which closed at $37,500 against an estimate of $1,000+

· An Apollo 13 Flown Heat Shield Ablative Heat Shield Plug in Acrylic Display Directly from the Estate of NASA Legend Chris Kraft, on Wooden Base, with Certificate of Authenticity, which sold for $35,000 against an estimate of $4,000+

· Apollo 12, Apollo 16, and Apollo 17 Flown Flags in Unique Wall Display Presented to and Directly from the Estate of NASA Legend Chris Kraft, with Certificate of Authenticity, which drew a winning bid of $32,500

· An Apollo 11 Flown Heat Shield Plug in Lucite Display on Wooden Base Directly from the Estate of NASA Legend Chris Kraft, with Certificate of Authenticity that nearly quadrupled its pre-auction estimate when it brought $31,250

· Gemini 3 - Gemini 12 Presentation Set of Flown Fliteline Medals (Ten) in Lucite, One of only Twenty-four Produced, Directly from the Estate of NASA Legend Chris Kraft, with Certificate of Authenticity that doubled its estimate when it realized $30,000

Richard Gordon's Personal Bendix Trophy for Winning the 1961 Race in an F4H-1 Phantom II Plane with a Record Cross Country Time of Two Hours and 47 Minutes, Setting a Speed Record of 869.74 MPH, the first such trophy to be brought to auction in years, if ever, finished at $68,750. From one of four major trophy races that came out of the 1920s-30s, the Golden Age of Air Racing, the Bendix was created to interest engineers in building faster, more reliable and enduring aircraft, which in turn, would directly affect the future of commercial aviation. The event began when the Henderson Brothers convinced industrialist Vincent Bendix of the Bendix Corporation to sponsor a transcontinental, point-to-point race with prize money of $15,000.

More than a dozen bids poured in for a Silver Snoopy Award Featuring Letter with Forty-Two Astronaut Signatures until it reached $45,000 – five times its pre-auction estimate. A Robbins and Sterling hallmarked pin of the beloved Peanuts character, which was offered along with a letter presented to Mr. R. Burton, appears to be of the Variant 4 variety known to have flown aboard Apollo 9 and Apollo 10. Presented by Michael Collins, the letter describes the efforts Burton made in Toxic and Noxious Fumes analysis. The letter bears the signatures of some of the most recognizable and collectible astronauts of all time, including Neil Armstrong, Alan Bean, Gene Cernan, Alan Shepard and Jack Swigert.

Not all of the "Red Number” photos in the auction came from the Kraft collection. Others that were in high demand included:

· An Apollo 8 "Earthrise" Vintage NASA "Red Number" Color Photo, Image AS8-14-2383, PSA Authenticated and Encapsulated with Certification Number 84316650, which more than doubled its estimate at $9,375

· A pair of Apollo 11 Vintage NASA "Red Number" Color Photos: Buzz Aldrin's Boot and Bootprint on the Lunar Surface, which brought $8,125, more than nine times the pre-auction estimate

· An Apollo 8: Vintage NASA "Red Number" Color Photo, the First Image Taken by Humans of the Whole Earth, which realized $4,500 – five times its estimate

Other auction highlights included, but were not limited to:

An Apollo 11 Crew-Signed White Spacesuit Color Photo. A 10" x 8" NASA litho print of the "Prime Crew of Fifth Manned Apollo Mission": $27,500

An Apollo 11 VIP Launch Invitation Signed by the Crew for Astronaut Jerry Carr, Directly from His Family Collection, with Certificate of Authenticity: $20,000

For images and information on all lots in the auction, visit

Heritage Auctions is the largest fine art and collectibles auction house founded in the United States, and the world's largest collectibles auctioneer. Heritage maintains offices in New York, Dallas, Beverly Hills, San Francisco, Chicago, Palm Beach, London, Paris, Geneva, Amsterdam and Hong Kong.

Heritage also enjoys the highest online traffic and dollar volume of any auction house on earth (source: SimilarWeb and Hiscox Report). The Internet's most popular auction-house website,, has more than 1,400,000 registered bidder-members and searchable free archives of five million past auction records with prices realized, descriptions and enlargeable photos. Reproduction rights routinely granted to media for photo credit.

Steve Lansdale, Public Relations Specialist

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