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a mammoth photograph of the first men on the moon

(APOLLO 11.) Armstrong, Neil. Photograph of Buzz Aldrin standing on the moon with the American flag and the lunar module, signed on the mount by all three crew members: Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins and additionally inscribed “For Peggy and Bill Burden with Best Wishes from Apollo Eleven.”

NASA, July 20, 1969

Color photograph (approx. 20 x 16 in.), original mount. Signatures a little faded but quite legible. The colors and tones of this splendid large-format photograph are rich and vibrant.

This classic space photograph is signed by the crew of Apollo 11, the first manned mission to the Moon: Neil Armstrong (commander), Buzz Aldrin (lunar module pilot), and Michael Collins (command module pilot) and further inscribed to William A. M. and Peggy Burden. This famous Armstrong photograph of Aldrin, standing on the moon’s surface with the United States flag, is NASA AS11-40-5875.

A splendid association: this magnificent photograph is inscribed to Vanderbilt heir William A. M. Burden and his wife Peggy. Burden “made his own fortune in aviation securities” (Smithsonian). A major figure in the history of American aviation finance, Burden was a key adviser to the American government on the development of aviation.

As a member of the Smithsonian’s Board of Regents, Burden was instrumental in the creation of the National Air and Space Museum. When the project’s funding was threatened, he secured the support of his friend Richard M. Nixon. Burden’s personal collection “formed the core of the National Air and Space Museum historical aviation research collection” (Scott, Aeronautics and Space Flight Collections, p. 192). A leading collector of modern art, Burden oversaw the dramatic expansion of the Museum of Modern Art in the 1950s and 1960s as its president.

This enormous 20 x 16 in. photograph is the largest contemporary print of this iconic photograph that we have seen. Smaller prints often have a golden hue. This splendid example conveys the cold white colors of the moon.

Provenance: William and Peggy Burden. Financier, philanthropist, and diplomat, Burden made his fortune in aviation finance and advised several presidents on aviation matters. As a member of the Smithsonian’s Board of Regents, he was instrumental in the creation of the National Air & Space Museum.

NASA AS11-40-5875.

$30,000