New York: A New York City auction will offer 125 meteorites for sale, including a large chunk of the moon and a cosmic rock that evokes Edvard Munch's iconic painting "The Scream."
The sale, one of the largest of its kind, is being held by Heritage Auctions on Oct 14.
The moon rock has the highest pre-sale estimate of USD 340,000 to USD 380,000, as less than 0.1 per cent of all meteorites recovered are lunar in origin.
The 179-pound (81-kilogramme) meteorite nicknamed "The Scream" is estimated at USD 175,000 to USD 225,000.
"When I first saw this meteorite (The Scream) I saw the resemblance in a heartbeat," said Darryl Pitt, who consigned the piece to the auction. "It is sculpted in part by atmospheric entry and most significantly by its exposure to the elements on earth over millennia."
Three of the concave hallows are evocative of Munch's image of a man holding his head and screaming under a streaked sky. It was discovered in the Kalahari Desert in southern Africa.
More than half of the meteorites in the sale come from the Macovich collection, the world's largest grouping of iron meteorites. Specimens from the collection are found at museums in London, New York and Paris and The Smithsonian in Washington, among others. Its principal owner is Pitt, who said that 20 years ago all meteorites were selling for the same price.
"That has radically changed with the introduction of the first natural history auction in the mid-1990s," Pitt said in an interview. "I was on a mission to popularise meteorites. I knew that the only way I would be able to attract interest on the part of the public was to offer objects that were more visually captivating."
"The overwhelming majority of meteorites are not aesthetic," he added.
Some come with interesting stories, like a small portion of a meteorite estimated at about USD 4,000 that fell from the sky in 1492. It was later chained up in a church so it couldn't fly back into orbit.
First Published: Thursday, September 27, 2012, 10:40