NASA Hasselblad To Be Auctioned, Expected to Hit $200,000+

But something about some of the information doesn't add up...

westlicht hasselblad

westlicht hasselblad

The famed WestLicht auction house has yet another super-rare camera up for auction. This time, they've managed to score a "Hasselblad 'LUNAR MODULE PILOT CAMERA'", which has the incredible distinction of not only being a NASA Hasselblad, but also having been to the Moon and back.

The auction for the Hasselblad 500 will start at 80,000 Euro ($108,000), and is expected to fetch 150,000-200,000 Euro ($202,000-$207,000). WestLicht is billing it as "After presenting and auctioning the most rare and most valuable cameras of mother earth for many years, we proudly present the only camera ever used on another planet AND which also came back home," and "the only camera ever used on the moon AND which also came back home."

The organization states it's camera no.1038, and is one of the 14 cameras used by the Apollo 11-17 missions, and the only one to make it back to Earth. They claim it was used by Jim Irwin to shoot some 299 photos during Apollo 15, and the other 13 cameras in the series were abandoned on the Lunar surface.

However, there are already some disputes about WestLicht's claims, which might raise an eyebrow or two. Kishore Sawh of SLRLounge points out that there are two known cameras to have returned from the Moon:

The WestLicht Gallery impresses that this is the only camera from the moon mission that has returned to Earth, and all news outlets I’ve seen have spread this notion. It’s not. I’m somewhat of a space obsessive and I can tell you that not one other, but at least TWO others have actually returned. While I can’t speak for the current placement of the cameras, it’s known that Alan Shepard who famously hit a golf ball on the moon on Apollo 14 returned with his, as did Apollo 17′s Eugene Cernan, who was the last man to walk on the moon. How this information was neglected in an auction listing of this caliber is somewhat curious, though I’m sure potential buyers would do the necessary research.

Meanwhile, CollectSpace has added some questions about the sale, including asking if it went to the moon at all:

Based on additional serial numbers posted on Westlicht's website promoting the upcoming sale, the Hasselblad is a match for the unit sold by RR Auction of New Hampshire in November 2012. In that sale, which ended with a high bid of $42,704, the camera was described as having flown on an Apollo command module to lunar orbit — no claim was made of it having ever landed on the moon or having been used by Irwin.

"I feel certain that this camera flew in the Apollo command service module during one or more lunar flights," asserted NASA's former aerial, instrumentation and motion picture photographer Dick Williamson in a letter included with the camera's 2012 auction.

Interestingly, we've seen versions of cameras that were modified for space up for auction before—but none of those actually made the trip. Usually, NASA has camera gear left behind to save space and weight for more important concerns on the voyage home. Hasselblad even used the fact in advertising at one point.

NASA gear is always extremely exciting to see at auction, but the conflicting stories around this camera definitely have us a bit perplexed.

(via Engadget)