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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Sotheby's Bidders Grab Soviet Space Gear

NEW YORK -- Albert Einstein's manuscript laying out his special theory of relativity left the auction block unbought, as bidders at Sotheby's chose Soviet space mementos as the relative bargains of the day.


Sotheby's estimate for Einstein's 72-page paper, handwritten in German in 1912, was $4 million to $6 million; it sold to a private American collector in 1987 for $1.2 million. But the sales room was silent Saturday as auctioneer David Redden started the bidding at $2 million. He gave up at $3.3 million. There was no bid above the secret minimum price set by the seller and Sotheby's.


Earlier in the day, a dog space suit fetched $22,000 and a hunk of Sputnik I sold for $14,000 at an auction of space memorabilia from the Soviet Union.


But a space capsule got no takers. "What on earth would you do with it?" wondered George Glazer, a globe dealer at the sale.


More than 400 lots were for sale; sellers included cosmonauts, engineers and companies that designed and produced space gear. Among the bids:


?The 1959 dog space suit, which was sold for well above its presale estimate of $10,000 to $15,000.


?The fragment of an oxygen tank from Sputnik I, launched Oct. 4, 1957. Its $14,000 hammer price eclipsed the estimate of $1,000 to $1,500.


?A lunar globe, marked in red ink to denote spacecraft landings; estimated at $600 to $800, sold for $10,000.


?A 2 meter wide Vostok 3KA-2 capsule, estimated at $800,000 to $1 million. The auctioneer passed it at $500,000.