Meteorites have directly struck many homes, a few cars and a doghouse (see lot 4). Some meteorites have come perilously close to hitting people, but this has not occurred except for a woman in Alabama who was struck by a meteorite that ricocheted in her home after going through her roof, and a small meteorite that struck a banana tree before gently falling onto the head of a young boy in Uganda. There is, however, one meteorite that has been documented to have ended a life.

It was on the evening of October 15, 1972 that farmhands in Trujillo, Venezuela were startled by an inexplicable sonic boom. The next day an exotic rock was found alongside a cow’s carcass whose neck and clavicle had been pulverized. It was obvious to the farm’s owner, physician Dr. Argimiro Gonzalez, what had occurred, but he didn’t give it a second thought since such mayhem from falling meteorites seemed intuitive. An unplanned steak dinner was enjoyed that night and the celestial boulder was used as a doorstop. More than a decade later, scientists confirmed what Dr. Gonzalez had long presumed. However, what Dr. Gonzalez did not know was that this was the first and still only documented fatal meteorite impact. When Dr. Ignacio Ferrin, an astronomer at the University of the Andes, learned of the bovicide that had occurred at Valera, he visited the Gonzalez estate and left with an affidavit as to the aforementioned events as well as the meteorite itself.

Three faces of this spike-shaped specimen are cut and polished. The multi-hued variegated matrix is embedded with sparkling metallic grains. Blurred chondrule boundaries are evidence of heating on its parent asteroid long before its brush with the doomed bovine. Modern cutting.

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.

75 x 44 x 32mm (3 x 1.75 x 1.25 in.) and 160.5g (0.33 lbs)
Dr. Ignacio Ferrin, Merida, Venezuela
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