Neil Armstrong’s Apollo 11 Lunar Brooch Is For Sale
Armstrong's wife wore the custom-made piece to meet Queen Elizabeth in 1969.
July 20 marks the 50th anniversary of the historic Apollo 11 mission and the first time that a person walked on the moon. However you plan to celebrate the occasion, we’ve found the perfect accessory: a brooch created by Van Cleef & Arpels that was presented to Neil Armstrong after he took those famous first steps on the lunar surface.
Now up for sale, the brooch is inscribed “Neil Armstrong / Sunday, July 20, 1969 / Van Cleef & Arpels.” The 18k gold piece takes the shape of the lunar surface, with a textured design that mimics its craters. A diamond represents the very spot where the lunar vessel Eagle landed, and five rubies surround it, designating the path that Armstrong walked on the moon.
New Orleans-based antiques dealer M.S. Rau obtained the brooch directly from the Armstrong family—the price is currently listed at $168,500.
A fifth of the world’s population watched the landing live–in those pre-internet days, you had to watch television when it was on, or miss it.
“Fifty years later, when you look at the moon, and you think of it hundreds of thousands of miles away, you realize the courage it took to get in that little capsule on top of that giant rocket, propelled into oblivion, and to step out,” said Lyndon Lasiter, senior vice president at Rau Antiques. “We didn’t know when he stepped out of that spacecraft what he was stepping into.”
Armstrong’s wife wore the lunar brooch on the 38-day “Giant Leap” goodwill tour, during which the Apollo astronauts and their wives visited about 30 countries around the world. At each stop, they met with heads of state, and among those who saw the brooch were Pope Paul VI at the Vatican, and Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace.
As part of the sale, the brooch is accompanied by a letter of provenance signed by the astronaut’s two sons, Rick and Mark Armstrong, that reads in part:
On July 20, 1969, our father—Neil Armstrong—became the first person to walk on the surface of the moon. The Apollo 11 mission to the moon was the culmination of years of hard work and sacrifice, not only for our father, but also for the hundreds of thousands of people who worked together to realize this goal. Their work serves as a shining example of what we can accomplish when we dare to dream the impossible and then harness the immense power of our human potential to achieve those dreams.
Our father, his parents, and our mother, Janet, routinely saved items from their years together for posterity. It was our goal not only to preserve these items, but also to enable others to share them and celebrate these historic achievements with us.