Christie’s exhibit fuels public’s fascination with meteorites

Canyon Diablo iron, Coconino County, Arizona, 13½ x 8 x 7¼ in., 31.9kg. (70⅓ pounds). Christie’s image

NEW YORK — Meteorites are among the hottest collectible with demand outstripping the supply. Forty-four select examples are now on display at Christie’s in Rockefeller Center as part of Christie’s “Deep Impact: Martian, Lunar and Other Rare Meteorites” sale. The auction ends this Wednesday, Feb. 14.

Specimens of the moon, Mars and several meteorites with extraterrestrial gemstones are featured. Additional highlights include aesthetic, naturally-sculptural iron meteorites specimens with museum provenance and meteorite spheres and cubes.

Included in the display is a meteorite that originated from the Jan. 16 fireball event in Michigan. Recovered from a frozen lake by an enterprising meteorite hunter, it arrived in time to join the exhibit, but not this sale, and will be offered by Christie’s in London in the near future.

Several of the specimens are from the Macovich Collection the world’s foremost collection of aesthetic iron meteorites.

“While the world’s fascination with meteorites is flourishing, the market for sculptural iron meteorites has exploded. Less than 2 percent of all meteorites are of the iron variety — and less than 5 percent of those are aesthetic and rightfully considered natural sculpture from outer space,” said Macovich curator, Darryl Pitt.

This sale contains several such offerings from Russia, Africa and even the United States. A matchless Canyon Diablo iron meteorite from Meteor Crater, Arizona, is the featured lot. Estimated to sell for $150,000 to $250,000, and evocative of a Henry Moore sculpture, this meteorite was once part of the core of an asteroid that broke apart, a portion of which was deflected into an Earth-intersecting orbit.

About 49,000 years ago it plowed into the Arizona desert with the energy of 100 atomic bombs creating the best-preserved meteorite crater on Earth. While much of the mass vaporized on impact, the fragments of iron that survived are referred to as Canyon Diablo meteorites — and this is a peerless example.

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