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Piece of historic meteorite up for auction

June 9, 2011 at 5:40 PM   |   Comments

DALLAS, June 9 (UPI) -- A piece cut from the famous 15-ton Willamette Meteorite at New York's American Museum of Natural History will go to the highest bidder, an auction house says.

The nearly 30-pound crown section cut from the historic meteorite in a controversial decision by the museum's curator a decade ago will be offered in a public auction on Sunday in Dallas and online, a release by Heritage Auctions in Dallas said Thursday.

The seller is Darryl Pitt, curator of the New York-based Macovich Collection of Meteorites, who traded a martian meteorite to the museum for the piece of the Willamette Meteorite in 1997.

Scientists believe the Willamette Meteorite originated from the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, fell to Earth in Canada and was transported slowly to what is now Clackamas County, Ore., in a moving glacier during the last ice age, Pitt said.

"In 1997, Museum Curator Dr. Martin Prinz decided to cut off an end piece of the meteorite so the public could view its dazzling interior crystalline structure," Pitt said.

"The museum has publicly vowed that the meteorite will never again be cut," he said.

The minimum bid for the "missing" section of the Willamette Meteorite is $750,000, the auction house said.

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