On July 20, 1969, NASA boarded a man on the Apollo 11, put him on the moon and captured it all on tape - only to sell the original footage unknowingly to an intern for a mere price of $218 ten years later.
The lucky intern who held onto the tapes for decades, never even knew their contents.
The tapes were sold by accident to NASA intern Gary George in 1976, who purchased the set unknowingly among 65 boxes of videotapes at a government surplus auction for $217.77.
Now, NASA's blunder will belong to the highest bidder: at a starting bid of $700,000, the three surviving videotapes of the seminal moment in space exploration are up for auction.
The tapes are worth up to $2 million. However, Gary resold most of the tapes to local TV stations for a profit but held onto three of them labeled "APOLLO 11 EVA | July 20, 1969 REEL 1 [-3]" at his father's suggestion, according to Sothby's - Sotheby's the British-founded American multinational corporation and one of the world's largest brokers of fine and decorative art.
More than 30 years later, Gary heard NASA was trying to track down the footage for the moon landing's 40th anniversary. He then took the unidentified tapes to a video archivist and viewed them for the first time.
It was then that he realized he'd accidentally purchased the sharpest footage of the lunar landing ever recorded.
The tapes were digitized and saved on a hard drive, which is included in the tapes' sale. Sotheby's staff viewed them once to assess their quality, which they found to be "faultless."
Still, it's highly unlikely that the highest bidder will snag a bargain like George did.
The two-and-a-half hours of footage provide the sharpest image of the history-making mission ever recorded, from Neil Armstrong's first steps on the moon's surface to an interplanetary conversation with then-President Richard Nixon to the planting of the American flag.
The auction will begin on July 20, the day which marks the 50th anniversary of the historical moon landing.