The Moon is among the rarest substances on Earth with only 750 kilograms of lunar meteorites known to exist. Now offered is a complete sphere fashioned from a Moon rock ejected from the lunar surface following an asteroid impact. Moon rocks are identified by specific textural, mineralogical, chemical and isotopic signatures. Many of the common minerals found on Earth’s surface are rare or absent on the Moon and some lunar minerals are unknown on Earth. In addition, Moon rocks contain gases captured from the solar wind with isotope ratios very different from the same gases found on Earth. Every lunar meteorite known could be contained in just five footlockers, and a significant fraction are controlled by governmental institutions. Not one milligram of Apollo material is available for private ownership.

Two years ago, a strewn field of lunar meteorites was discovered straddling the Mauritanian, Western Saharan and Algerian borders. Nearly 250 kilograms of lunar meteorites were recovered — nearly doubling the mass of all lunar meteorites known. An extraordinary bounty, this created the opportunity to fashion a limited number of lunar spheres of this particular lunar meteorite, NWA 12691. It’s only because of the amount of NWA 12691 recovered that the possibility of rendering spheres exists. There is insufficient material of other Moon rocks to undertake the fabrication of spheres, as rocks far greater in size than the resulting sphere are needed. The trimming, grinding and polishing regimens result in a great deal of material loss — and thus the reason for the conservatorship of one of the rarest substances on Earth. It may be decades before another lunar meteorite with a sufficiently high total known weight will be found to provide the possibility of additional spheres. Now offered is an exceedingly limited and captivating presentation of the Moon.

NWA 12691 is composed of fragments of olivine, pigeonite, augite, ilmenite and signature white anorthite naturally cemented together by what was a melt of lunar regolith and other crushed rock. (A large format microscopic image of NWA 12691 is featured in lot 56.) The curved face of this sphere reveals a number of inclusions, the result of the ongoing bombardment to which the Moon’s surface was exposed prior to the collision responsible for launching this rock to Earth. Modern fashioning.

Christie's would like to thank Dr. Alan E. Rubin at the Department of Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles for his assistance in preparing this catalogue.

The official classification of the material from which this sphere was hewn was performed by Dr. Anthony Irving, the world’s foremost classifier of lunar and Martian meteorites. His work underwent peer review prior to publication in the 108th edition of the Meteoritical Bulletin.

42mm (1.66 in.) in diameter and 109.8g (0.25 lbs)
Brought to you by
More from
Deep Impact: Martian, Lunar and Other Rare Meteorites
Place your bid Condition report

A Christie's specialist may contact you to discuss this lot or to notify you if the condition changes prior to the sale.

I confirm that I have read this Important Notice regarding Condition Reports and agree to its terms. View Condition Report