Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice


    Martian (Shergottite) - SNC
    Algeria - coordinates unknown
    In 2005, nomads from the Sahara desert stumbled upon a profusion of small
    meteorites. Some were cut for analysis, and it was discovered they were geochemically and isotopically identical. It soon became clear to scientists that the meteorites shared a common origin, and it was the planet Mars. In an event that occurred hundreds of years ago, a meteoroid broke up in the thermosphere, and a Martian meteorite shower pelted the Sahara.

    Several years ago it was unthinkable that there could be individual Martian meteorites available to collectors - and now these specimens, part of what is only a cereal bowl's worth of such specimens, are among the rarest objects on Earth. The specimen featured here displays the glossy "burnt-sugar" fusion crust of the most coveted Martian meteorites; as a result of desert exposure, a smooth natural varnish provides surface sheen.

    This particular Martian meteorite is evern rarer still, as a result of its encounter with a star-other than the sort that might be imagined. Legendary recording artist Herbie Hancock had this piece of Mars in his pocket on September 12, 2011 during the 25th Anniversary Gala Celebration of the Thelonious Monk Institute at The Kennedy Center. During the course of the evening, the specimen now offered did a bit of "star-grazing" of its own and was embraced by the likes of Jennifer Hudson, Colin Powell, Madeleine Albright and Aretha Franklin - among others. Accompanied by a note from Hancock authenticating the best night out a piece of Mars ever had, as well as the abstract in the Meteoritical Bulletin providing authentication as to its previous life on Mars, this is one of the rarest substances on Earth made rarer by the company it has kept. Devoted to nuturing musical excellence, proceeds generated by the sale of this lot will be going to the Thelonius Monk Institute. 15 x 11 x 11mm (0.66 x 0.5 x .0.5 inches) and 4.05 grams.

    Provenance: The Macovich Collection, New York City

    Estimate: $7,500-$9,000

    100% of the proceeds generated by the sale of this lot will be going to the Thelonious Monk Institute.

    The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz was created in memory of Thelonious Monk, the legendary jazz pianist and composer who believed the best way to learn jazz was from a master of the music. The Institute follows that same philosophy, and for the past 25 years has brought students together with renowned jazz artists and educators. The Institute is a nonprofit education organization committed to its mission of offering the world's most promising young musicians college level training by internationally acclaimed jazz masters and presenting public school-based jazz education programs for young people around the world. All of these programs are provided free of charge to the students and schools, filling a tremendous void in arts education.

    INTRODUCTION TO MARTIAN METEORITES - Meteorites from Mars are among the most exotic substances on Earth. The determination of the Martian origin of select meteorites is the result of research conducted by hundreds of scientists throughout the world. In addition to many arcane markers, these unique meteorites share the following fundamental characteristics: they exhibit an unusually young crystalline age (so that cant' be from Earth); they contain water-bearing minerals (so they can't be from the asteroid belt - the place of origin of 99.9% of all meteorites); there is evidence of a planetary sized gravitational field on their crystalline structure (which makes the most likely candidates of origin our two closest neighbors - Venus and Mars). The link to Mars was speculative until an analysis was conducted on the glassy inclusions of a meteorite suspected to be of Martian origin. In this glass were tiny voids, and in these voids were tiny volumes of gas. In 1997 the technology existed to analyze the gas - and it matched perfectly with the signature of the Martian atmosphere as reported by NASA's Viking Missions to Mars. As is the case with lunar meteorites, the delivery mechanism was an asteroid impact, which jettisoned material off of the Martian surface into an Earth-intersecting orbit.

    Condition Report*: Condition report available upon request.
    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Some condition issues may not be noted in the condition report but are apparent in the provided photos which are considered part of the condition report. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. Heritage does not guarantee the condition of frames and shall not be liable for any damage/scratches to frames, glass/acrylic coverings, original boxes, display accessories, or art that has slipped in frames. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    October, 2012
    14th Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 7,790

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    25% on the first $50,000 (minimum $14), plus 20% of any amount between $50,000 and $1,000,000, plus 12% of any amount over $1,000,000 per lot.

    Shipping, Taxes, Terms and Bidding
    This item cannot be shipped using standard methods. Please contact us for more information. Sales Tax information

    Important information concerning Sales Tax and Resale Certificates. Learn More

    Terms and Conditions  |  Bidding Guidelines and Bid Increments |  Glossary of Terms

    Sold on Oct 14, 2012 for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)
    Track Item

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Consign to the 2022 April 21 Photographs Signature® Auction .

    Learn about consigning with us

    Wow; aren’t we lucky to meet you. Thanks for the great info and superior client service.
    Paul & Gerri M.,
    New York, NY
    View More Testimonials receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source:

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search