Penthouse Pet flown to the Moon could sell for over $10,000

Buzz Shortyear

Buzz Shortyear

2017-03-29 13:58:58

A Penthouse magazine centerfold flown to the Moon and back could sell for more than $10,000 in an auction of rare space memorabilia next month.

Described as "undoubtedly the most risqué and unusual of all flown items", the centerfold comes from the collection of the late Apollo astronaut Gene Cernan (1934 – 2017).

As the commander of Apollo 17, Cernan became the 11th man to walk on the moon, and was subsequently the last man to stand on its surface before he returned to the lunar module on December 13, 1972.

Prior to the Apollo 17 mission, Cernan was part of the Apollo 14 back-up crew, and was responsible for starting a chain of practical jokes that continued until his own trip to the moon.

Having launched into space in January 1971, the primary crew of Apollo 14 were surprised to discover the back-up crew had hidden a stash of special mission patches throughout the spacecraft.

The patches featured cartoon characters Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner, along with the words 'Beep! Beep!', which prompted Commander Alan Shepard to contact mission control with the following message: "Cernan, if I find another one of those patches, it will be BEEP BEEP your ass!"

Two years later, Cernan and his fellow crew members Ronald Evans and Harrison Schmitt were equally surprised to find the Apollo 14 crew had taken their revenge.

Upon opening the official flight plan manual, they found a magazine centrefold featuring Penthouse Pet of the Month Helen Caunt, covered with conveniently placed stickers of Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner.

The centrefold returned to Earth with the crew, and later passed into Cernan's personal collection of memorabilia.

It will now hit the block at RR Auction in Boston, along with a letter by Cernan himself which reads (in part):

"I have kept this Penthouse centerfold as a memento of my Apollo 17 [mission] to the Moon after NASA returned it to me in 1973…This Penthouse centerfold represents one [of] the rarest and more 'interesting' Apollo artifacts of the Apollo 17 mission and was an example of the culture and camaraderie exhibited by [the] astronaut corp of the 1960's."

Bidding in the RR Auction Space and Aviation sale opens on April 13, and closes on April 20.

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