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Christie's Deep Impact: Martian, Lunar and Other Rare Meteorites

DESIGN

Christie's Deep Impact: Martian, Lunar and Other Rare Meteorites

Magnificent, naturally-formed sculptures from outer space, now up for auction

by David Graver
on 11 November 2014
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Launching today, 11 November 2014, premier auction house Christie's shines a light on a different sort of rare sculptural wonder. Each lot in their Deep Impact offering happens to be from outer space—be that the Moon, Mars or deep asteroid fields. Nature often inspires art and design, and these beautiful pieces—stretching from across time and the cosmos—are nothing short of inspirational. Raw, natural shapes forged by the elements contrast almost jewel-like spheres, each having been discovered across Earth over centuries. And they're not as expensive as one might think, with some predicted to sell for around $1,500.

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CH spoke with James Hyslop, Christie’s Head of Department for Science and Natural History. He explained Christie's take on the allure of meteorites: "There is a timeless elegance to these pieces. Not only do they represent our scientific understanding of the Solar System and our place within it, but they are beautiful objects in their own right. Some have been compared to the aesthetics of artists like Henry Moore or Barbara Hepworth sculptures." In each piece there's an abstract majesty—crafted by chance—that appeals to both scientists and art collectors. Or simply anyone wanting to get their hands on an item that is quite literally otherworldly.

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"I remember growing up as a kid and reading about the meteorite impact that ended the reign of the dinosaurs," Hyslop explained, "and being in awe of these rocks that descended from the heavens. Some of them are 4,500,000,000 years old, a number so large as to almost be incomprehensible. Yet when that four and a half billion-year meteorite is sitting in the palm of your hand, realizing that you are holding something that is a third as old as time itself, is the most extraordinary sensation." There's also a tremendous amount of variation in the pieces. Their origins are so diverse and the circumstances with which they fell (and were recovered) adds additional layers to their story.

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"We have chosen these 30 meteorites to give collectors, both new and existing, the chance to acquire not only meteorites of immense scientific interest, such as coming from the Moon or the planet Mars, but also more accessible examples starting at $250 for new collectors to this rich field," notes Hyslop. Among them, "Black Beauty" is one of only 60 Martian meteorites discovered on Earth—found in 2011 in the Moroccan portion of the Sahara. Notably, it contains ten to 30 times more water than any other Martian specimen. As for "Ensisheim," which was found in 1492 in the Alsace region of France, the story of its landing was taken as a sign for Austria to invade France that same year. Story aside, it's blue-gray brecciated matrix stuns visually.

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Of the 28 remaining items, one hails from the largest meteorite show since the dawn of civilization—which traveled for roughly 320 million years before landing in Eastern Siberia. Another was found by tribesmen in Namibia and revered for its resemblence to a bird. It was later discovered that the meteorite was four and a half billion years old and came by way of the belt between Mars and Jupiter. There's even a fragment of Allende, stemming from a meteor shower over Mexico in 1969—which scientists believe is the oldest matter on Earth, having originated from an explosive supernova before the creation of our solar system. These are wondrous items with layer upon layer of history and mystery.

You can browse the entire 30-piece collection online, where starting bids start at $250.

Images courtesy of Christie’s Inc.

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