Grand Duke Owl meteorite shoots above the rest at Sotheby's auction

Last week, Sotheby's held a natural history auction in Paris with many wonders of the world on offer from fossils to rare butterflies and unaltered gems - with a sprinkling of meteorites for the discerning space collector.

Two of the nicer ones both hailed from Argentina:

Firstly, there was a Patagonian pallasite. Pallasites are a mix of meteorites where we find olivine crystals in the iron-nickel mold.

Argentinian Patagonian Pallasite
Like stained glass... the Patagonian Pallasite

Discovered in 1951, near Esquel, by a farmer digging for excavation to create a pond for his cattle, it one of the most beautiful Pallasites known in the world and the most exceptional for the specialists.

This cut contains many large olivine crystals translucid by very thin veins of metal, forming a kind of stained glass window celebrating the splendours and the power of the universe. The fine space rock, weighing in at 342g, sold on target at €15,000 ($20,700).

However, it was outdone by its countryrock. This was taken from the famous Campo del Cielo fall.

Campo del Cielo, a metallic octahedrite meteorite, was discovered in 1576 by Spanish colonists who collected many fragments during their expeditions which took place until 1783.

Grand Duke Owl octahedrite meteorite
The wisdom of space: the Grand Duke Owl octahedrite

About twenty meteors were found on the same day as this one, the largest measuring 100 metres in diameter. It was the indigenous peoples who named the meteorite by referring to the legends of their territory in which the sky stormed in a deafening concert.

According to specialists, the meterorite's fall took place between 4,000 and 5,800 years ago. Each fragment is historically given a name from its shape: the crater Meson de Fierro, the Runa Pocito, the Toba, the Hacha, the Mocovi, the Tonocote, the Abipon, and the Mataco.

The meteorite takes on the form of the Grand Duke Owl. This type of meteorite is very popular and much sought after as it is in a recognisable shape, and so it proved in this case as it beat its €12,000-15,000 listing and sold for €18,750 ($25,900).


These meteorites were appreciated for their natural look - but some collectors try to make more of them. Check out our meteorite blog post to find out more.


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