Nevertheless, the allure of moon rocks is strong enough to have created a black market where moon rock fragments and dust are sold for astronomical prices.
One way to obtain a moon rock is by purchasing a plaque that the US government sometimes gives to famous people and to politicians from other countries. They contain tiny slivers of moon rock. Some of these gifts have drifted into the collectors’ market. A 1998 CNN article, “Customs agents seize 4-billion-year-old moon rock,” reported that a Florida man was arrested for trying to sell a “fingernail-sized moon rock, weighing barely more than a gram” for $5 million. The rock was originally given to the Honduran government in 1973 by then-President Richard Nixon:
Customs agents, postal inspectors and NASA launched “Operation Lunar Eclipse” in September with an advertisement in USA Today seeking moon rocks, officials said.A Florida man identified as Alan Rosen called to offer a moon rock for sale. He told undercover agents he had bought the rock from the retired Honduran military officer, officials said. Agents viewed the rock at a suburban Miami bank and seized it on November 18, officials said.
Walter Cronkite got one of these plaques in 2004. Now that he is dead, I wonder where it will end up?
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