In an auction battle between two odd items yesterday at Bonhams New York, a few fossilized pieces of 130-million-year-old dinosaur dung sold for nearly one thousand dollars, but a 4.5 billion-year-old meteorite didn't find any takers.
Here's the auction house's glowing preview for the rock:
Weighing more than 925 pounds, the Fukang meteorite is expected to bring in a figure in excess of a $2m at the auction. Its rarity, impressive size and superlative quality combine to make this piece one of the most valuable meteorite specimens in history.
Discovered in Fukang, Xinjiang Uygar Province, China in 2000, Fukang is widely acknowledged as the world's preeminent pallasitic meteorite and is arguably one of the most magnificent meteorite finds of the 21st century.
Maybe that was a little pricey, even for space lovers. Still, the rock's owner, Marvin Kilgore of the university of Arizona's Southwest Meteorite Center, was reportedly a bit bummed that folks got more excited about dino-dung than his exotic treasure.
The coprolites are unique in the same sense. This fabulous meteorite would have sold at a reasonable offering price of about $1/gram ($420,000) at that size, maybe somewhat more. $2 million is over $4/gram. At the last Bonham's auction, another similar meteorite (note the repeated use of the word unique by sellers) the Brenham U.S. pallasite meteorite (oriented), failed to get over $200,000, though they billed it as a $1 million dollar plus rock. One joint owner in that case bought the other half from his partner slightly higher than the $200,000 prorated value for that whole rock). Based on the quality, comparison, etc., which also works with the two rocks, all they needed was to put it on the block for $500,000 and it quite well would have sold. If anyone pays more, they sellers are just capitalizing their greed the American way. The auction house knows it only takes one buyer and this is what the seller (a well-known meteorite peddler) is dreaming about. There is interest and even a small retail market for such space rocks, and pricing is not as arbitrary as it might seem. Ask someone to shell out $2 million, and at minimum they won't do that in an auction, it will take weeks of negotiation which may have already been in progress beforehand. The rock is a great attention getter to promote the auction with other dino crap and the like, and it gets the word out that the Seller has it too. Surely, no one counted on a miracle and both auctioneer and seller came out ahead. Bill Gates just wasn't watching at the moment with his tax refund check, so there is a lot more than meets the eye in this event than a simple comparison between dino dung and hawking space rocks. Interesting the dealer who is selling the rock, of nearly all in the meteorite clan, would be the best able to process this rock in a way to profit. Putting it on the block is not altruistic, and it would be nice if it could end up in a museum. About 15 years ago, a similarly third to half ton pallasite meteorite was bought for around $200,000 (probably nearing the $1,000,000 range in today's pricing), however Esquel as it is called, is far, far superior to this piece in this deceptive uniquedom. Coprolites can be found in many regions easily. Maybe paying $1000 to have dino dung is a good enough gag, so that paying over $1 million is just a tad of an indulgence. From this perspective, the auction wasn't a failure, it was a stunt. The stunt worked because look at where it has appeared!