Out-of-this-world offerings from Christie’s in its Deep Impact online sale
‘Heart of Space’ fragment is over 4.5 billion years old, and landed in Russia in 1947
The Heart of Space meteorite fragment (€240,000-€400,000)
For the person who has everything, Christie’s has out-of-this-world offerings at it Deep Impact martian, lunar and other rare meteorites online sale in New York.
A late but interesting consignment to the sale led Christie’s to change the date of its auction and extend it to Valentine’s Day.
The Sikhote-Alin meteor crashed to earth at a speed of 30,000mph – it was the largest meteor shower for thousands of years and weighed 200-300 metric tonnes in total.
Over 122 craters were formed from the impact – the largest measuring 28m in diameter and 6m deep, but it is the tiny heart-shaped fragment, now known as The Heart of Space, that has dumbfounded scientists, and is now the highlight of the sale.
“A mind-boggling series of occurrences and accidents were necessary to make a meteorite of this rare shape,” says James Hyslop, Christie’s science and natural history specialist. “And what makes it even more endearing is the fact that this piece would have come from the very core of its initial protoplanetary body – it broke off from the heart of its originator.”
It is over 4.5 billion years old, and broke away from its mantle in an asteroid collision between Mars and Jupiter, having wandered the solar system for 320 million years until it landed in Russia in 1947.
Such was the impact that locals thought Armageddon was upon them; the sonic boom could be heard for 300km, trees were uprooted, chimneys crashed and it was a miracle that no human lives were lost.
A local artist captured the bolide – this painting was subsequently used to commemorate the shower on a 1957 postage stamp. The estimate for the Heart of Space is €240,000-€400,000.
Other lots in the online auction are more affordable and include lot 16, The Allende (€1,601-€2,401), the most studied meteorite in the world. It fell in Mexico in February 1969, and scientists believe it predates our solar system. Its shimmering exterior is a result of aggregate minerals which scientists describe as “true stardust”.
Also for sale are lunar and martian offerings. Lot 27 is a Mar’s rock with martian atmosphere trapped inside from the Sahara desert. Only 400lb of this material is known to exist, and would have required Mars and Earth’s orbits to be perfectly aligned when the asteroid hit the red planet.
The bubbles trapped inside have been proven to match the atmosphere on Mars, but what also makes this piece special is that the hot meteor bonded with sand from the Sahara – giving the meteorite an Earthly frosting – like a marriage of two worlds (€24,000-€40,000).
Jewels are also listed, but this time it’s the extra-terrestrial kind. Lot 1, The Seymchan meteorite from Russia 1967, has a polished exterior allowing olivine and gem-quality peridot crystals to shine through (€2,401-€4,002).
Online bidding runs from February 6th-14th. See christies.com