April 9, 2008 Meteorite enthusiasts the world over know of the Fukang Meteorite. Discovered in the Gobi desert (near Fukang) in China eight years ago, the extremely rare and beautiful Pallasite meteorite is thought to have originated at the mantle-core boundary of very large differentiated asteroids that were destroyed during the early formation of the solar system over 4.5 billion years ago, give or take a hundred millennia or so. Fukang’s unique crystalline structures formed as the metal matrix cooled, with no gravitational influence, at a rate of only a few degrees per million-year period.
Originally weighing 1003 kg, the specimen has been whittled away as it is so rare and significant and beautiful that small pieces fetch between US$30 and US$50 per gram on the open market.
Now the “main mass” of the meteorite, a distinction considered highly desirable by meteorite collectors, is to be sold at auction by international fine art auctioneers Bonhams on Wednesday, April 30, 2008 at its salerooms in New York.
Weighing more than 925 pounds (approx 420 kilograms), what remains of the Fukang meteorite is expected to bring in a figure in excess of a US$1m at the auction.
At that rate, with 420,000 grams in one lump, it means the rare and famous rock will almost certainly be knocked down to someone interested in dismembering it into tiny slices – at US$40 a gram, the rock would return nearly US$17 million and it’s a commodity in distinctly limited supply. In the same way that Romain Jerome’s exquisite Titanic DNA watches contain metal from the original Titanic, watches manufactured with slices of the Fukang meteorite would also offer a "limited edition" watch of immense beauty thanks to its millions of spectacular olivine crystals.
More importantly, the heritage and history of any such sliver of the Fukang pallasite is beyond reproach. After discovery, the meteorite was examined by the University of Arizona and the report can be found here.
Meteorites typically explode after entering the Earth’s atmosphere, often blasting the original body into tiny pieces. Impact with Earth sometimes vaporizes the main mass of a meteorite completely. Yet, this massive survivor endured tremendous atmospheric and impact forces to transport its bounty of rare olivine crystals to Earth.
This spectacular lot will be on exhibit only within the Bonhams New York City salesrooms as of April 26. Highlights from the auction will preview in Los Angeles at the Sunset Boulevard salesrooms of Bonhams & Butterfields on April 11-13. The entire sale will then open for preview in Manhattan April 26-30.