Neil Armstrong Artifact Stolen

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A solid-gold replica of the Apollo 11 lunar landing module that had belonged to Neil Armstrong was stolen from the Armstrong Air and Space Museum in Wapakoneta, Ohio, late Friday night, according to local police. Three of the 5-inch-high 18-karat-gold lunar module replicas were created by Cartier, in France, on a commission from the Le Figaro newspaper, which raised the money through a subscription drive. The replicas were given to Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins during their world tour in 1969. In the museum, the replica was part of an exhibit showcasing that world tour. “We’re incredibly disappointed in the event, that somebody would take an item like this and would rob a museum, and would take cultural items away from the public,” Armstrong museum executive director Chris Burton said Monday. He said he couldn’t put a monetary value on the artifact.

“We don’t really deal in monetary value, we deal in historical value,” Burton said. “So, the historical value is great. In terms of the monetary value, that’s not really something that we’re concerned with.” Security cameras show that an individual broke into the museum near midnight. A security alarm summoned police, but when they arrived, the thief was already gone. “Our greatest concern is that the object is returned in as near-perfect condition as can be at this point, so that future generations can get an opportunity to enjoy it,” Burton said. Several other items from the exhibit also were taken, including award ribbons and commemorative coins and medals. Armstrong, who died in 2012, was from Wapakoneta.

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