Massive meteorite lands at Gallery 63 April 6

Meteorite, 4-plus billion years of age, 100,000-$200,000

Meteorite, 4-plus billion years of age, $100,000-$200,000

ATLANTA — A museum-quality, 394-pound meteorite — by far the largest specimen of its kind for sale in the world — will come up for bid in an online-only Spring Estate Auction planned for Tuesday, April 6, at 11 a.m. Eastern by Gallery 63 in Atlanta. Absentee and Internet live bidding is provided by LiveAuctioneers. “Meteorites of this size and importance do not come up for public sale very often,” said Paul Brown, who serves as a consultant for Gallery 63, having passed along ownership to his son, Elijah. “It wouldn’t be out of place in any of the world’s museums.” The meteorite, which comes with a custom-built iron stand measuring 74 inches tall, has an estimate of $100,000-$200,000.

The meteorite is comprised of various platinum group metals. “Based on that alone,” Brown said, “it’s valued at close to $500,000, but its real value is in its history and, more important, its rarity.” He added, “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to own such a massive and highly desirable meteor, especially at a time when space collectibles overall are so red hot right now.”

While there is no denying the meteorite is more than four billion years old and originated in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, where and when it fell to Earth isn’t exactly clear. What is known is that the rock was previously owned by Dr. Harvey H. Nininger (1887-1986), a self-taught meteoriticist and educator who revived interest in the study of meteorites in the 1930s.

Dr. Nininger assembled the largest personal collection of meteorites up to that time and founded the American Meteorite Museum in Arizona in 1942. He sold parts of his collection to the British Museum in 1958 and the Arizona State University Center for Meteorite Studies in 1960. The meteorite in the auction was sold to a private collector in 1985, who’s held it ever since.

This is where the meteorite’s provenance becomes as mysterious as the universe itself. One theory states it is a Campo de Cielo meteorite, which refers to a group of iron meteorites and to the area in Argentina where they were found (this one in the 1930s). Another explanation says it made its way to Earth via the 1947 Sikhote-Alin shower in Siberia. It’s unknown who’s right.

The fact is, further chemical analysis is probably required to determine which of these claims is true. What is impossible to dispute is the fact that the meteorite is an extraterrestrial sculptural form that was once part of the molten iron core of an asteroid that broke apart, a portion of which was deflected into an Earth-crossing orbit. The meteorite is more than 33in tall and 16in wide.

Meteorites are a constant source of fascination for the people who study them and for anyone who ponders our place in the universe. The Tellus Museum in Georgia has a meteorite on display but, for comparison’s sake, that one is only about 20 percent the size of the meteorite in the Gallery 63 sale. It will be interesting to see who outbids one another — museum or private collector.

While the meteorite is the auction’s clear headliner, there are other items to consider in the 343-lot catalog, mostly fine estate jewelry pieces and watches pulled from prominent estates and collections. A few of the expected top-selling dazzling jewelry items up for bid will include the following:

  • A Saturn jewels vintage-style platinum diamond and sapphire engagement ring having a 1.67-carat center diamond flanked to each side with sapphires ($10,000-$15,000)
Saturn jewels vintage-style platinum diamond and sapphire engagement ring, 1.67-carat center diamond flanked with sapphires, $10,000-$15,000

Saturn jewels vintage-style platinum diamond and sapphire engagement ring, 1.67-carat center diamond flanked with sapphires, $10,000-$15,000

  • A platinum bar pin or brooch set with nine round brilliant cut diamonds (each approx. .45 carats) and six sapphires (each about .50 carats). ($10,000-$20,000)
Platinum bar pin / brooch set with nine round brilliant cut diamonds and six sapphires, $10,000-$20,000

Platinum bar pin / brooch set with nine round brilliant cut diamonds and six sapphires, $10,000-$20,000

  • A French Chanel Lucite wristlet in immaculate condition without a scratch with a black lambskin interior / exterior reminiscent of a Chanel perfume bottle ($3,000-$5,000)

Watches will be generating keen bidder interest. A few examples include:

  • A Patek Philippe Calatrava white gold men’s watch with skeleton back, white dial with date, automatic movement, 29 jewels, original black leather band ($24,000-$28,000)
Patek Philippe Calatrava white gold watch, $24,000-$28,000

Patek Philippe Calatrava white gold watch, $24,000-$28,000

  • An important 18K white gold Chopard watch having the portrait of King Abdul-Aziz al Saud, founder of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, with an inscription (est. 15,000-$20,000)
Chopard watch with the portrait of King Abdul-Aziz al Saud, gift from founder of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, wit inscription, $15,000-$20,000

Chopard watch with the portrait of King Abdul-Aziz al Saud, gift from founder of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, wit inscription, $15,000-$20,000

  • A Datejust steel 18K yellow gold with two-tone Jubilee band and a stainless-steel fold over clasp, a very popular Rolex watch ($8,000-$16,000)
Rolex Datejust steel 18K yellow gold watch, $8,000-$16,000

Rolex Datejust steel 18K yellow gold watch, $8,000-$16,000

Sign up now to bid absentee or live online in Gallery 63’s April 6 auction through LiveAuctioneers.