The last of the Chilean miners has left the mine in which they have been trapped for the past 69 days. It seems a long time ago when all the men were presumed dead after 700,000 tonnes of rock crashed down about them, but for 17 days nothing was known.
Now, the last chapter has closed on a story which has kept the whole world entranced for over two months.
The epilogue could prove to be very lucrative for the miners however, and a fascinating new niche in the world of collectibles. Few stories have worldwide appeal and run the gamut from disaster, through utter joy when the men were found alive, and then a tense, exciting race to release them leading to joy once more.
The miners have already had some discussions underground about how best to negotiate the offers and split the money - there should be enough to go round. It's been estimated by movie industry experts that each miner could pocket £300,000 for the rights to a film about them alone.
Some have been asked to endorse products such as sex-aid vitamin pills and beer. Presumably cigarette makers will want to be in on the game too. None of the men should have to work as a miner again - though some have indicated that they intend to do so anyway.
What we're more interested in, however, are the collectibles associated with the event. The autographs of the miners will no doubt be worth something. Anything signed by all of them will likely be valuable, and the signed flags they came to the surface with, particularly so.
Memorabilia such as the suits and helmets which they were wearing underground all that time will be coveted, and perhaps the sunglasses issued to them for their exits even more so.
No doubt the pieces associated with some miners will be worth more than others: Florencio Avalos (the first to leave), Luis Urzua (the last) and Mario Sepulveda (the charismatic 'Supermario').
|Did you miss me? Mario Sepulveda emerges, hugs the President
- and everyone else - and hands out minerocks
Sepulveda and his namesake Mario Gomez, the eldest miner trapped beneath the earth, bring a religious aspect to the collectibles. Gomez sank to his knees in prayer on his exit, whilst Supermario's quote "I was with God and the Devil - and God took me", will stick with observers long after other details are forgotten.
He also handed out some rocks from the mine on exit. 'Minerocks' might compare to moonrocks in value - though perhaps man-made space-flown items are a better comparison as the value is not derived from what they are, but with the event - provenance will be all important.
It is likely that there will be some collectors who become exclusively interested in collecting Chilean mine memorabilia, just as there are those interested only in Titanic collectibles. That, however, was overwhelmingly tragic, so perhaps it is more like the true fairytale of Apollo 13.
Interest will extend to less personal memorabilia, especially parts from the successful Plan B drill and Fenix, the rescue capsule. However, there is one piece of memorabilia in particular that we'd like a look at.
That would be the handwritten note which first brought unalloyed joy to Chile and the world when it was withdrawn from the mine attached to a drill bit.
Reading simply "All 33 of us are fine in the shelter.", it is completely unique and captures a moment that captivated the world - like the very greatest collectibles do.