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"strange inheritance." thanks so much for watching, and remember, you can't take it with you. >> announcer: the heroes of the space race capture the imagination of a young boy. >> we choose to go to the moon. >> the world was fascinated. the astronauts were superstars. >> these are the nation's mercury astronauts. [ applause ] >> announcer: it inspires him to collect all kinds of nasa artifacts. >> that's one small step for man... >> it's one of america's greatest achievements, and i think it's something which will continue to inspire. >> announcer: but when he dies too young... >> i thought, "this can't be happening." >> announcer: ...he leaves his widow an inheritance that's out of this world. ♪
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>> i'm jamie colby, and today, i'm driving through southern california, where so much of the groundbreaking work for nasa's moon missions was done. i'm going to los angeles to meet a woman who embraced the lifelong passion of her soul mate -- a love for all things outer space. >> my name is shelly cigel. and when my husband passed away, he left me with an incredible collection and a special gift from beyond the grave. well, this is just a few little things that i took out. >> these nasa artifacts belonged to shelly's husband, rick cigel, samples of a lifelong collection that includes everything from engine parts to autographs. >> and this is actually the flag that they had signed, and that was from apollo 12. >> are these control panels? look at this! can i touch this? >> absolutely. please. >> okay. here we go. can you imagine? regulator bleed valve open.
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check. m.o.m. open. check. >> looks like it says "mom" to me. >> mom. this is the button that tells mom we're about to lift off. but i heard you have a monkey chair. >> we do. >> i have to see this. because before humans went into space, primates were launched into orbit so scientists could investigate the biological effects of space travel. i hear they paid them in bananas. it looks small enough. you really think a monkey rode in here? >> absolutely. batteries and power switches. >> look -- the battery from sears. that's funny. was rick proud of owning it? >> he loved telling everybody he had a monkey mobile. >> rick cigel is born in 1956 in stevens point, wisconsin. five years later, in 1961, a russian cosmonaut named yuri gargarin becomes the first human in space. president kennedy ups the ante and challenges america to be the
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first to put a man on the moon. >> this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth. >> alan b. shepard. >> i'm john glenn. >> walter m. schirra. >> to launch the space program, seven men are judged by nasa to have the right stuff and are enlisted into a program named project mercury. >> all systems are go. >> their goal -- to complete a series of manned flights around the earth and pave the way for the moon missions to come. >> that's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind. >> human space flight is special, because you're sending people with human eyes and human emotions to truly alien places. >> keith haviland is a space historian as well as an
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executive producer of a new film telling the story of astronaut gene cernan and the last voyage to the moon in 1972. >> oh, my golly! >> there's no substitute for human experience, human insight, and human ingenuity in exploration. >> and the awe and wonder felt that by that boy growing up in wisconsin back in the 1960s will last a lifetime. by 1990, rick is a successful l.a. lawyer with the money to start building an impressive collection of space artifacts. >> at the time, nasa was getting rid of all this stuff. they had warehouses of these things, and they were just throwing things away. >> rick tracks down big things and small, from a bottle of cocoa powder carried by astronauts on apollo 10 and a half-dollar flown on the 1965 gemini mission to a pair of soviet space-suit gloves and a life-size space capsule replica
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he buys from a former nasa engineer. this is a space capsule. it's being taken off of a tow truck, loaded into his warehouse. >> he has the biggest grin on his face, and -- >> like a kid in a candy store. >> exactly. >> shelly is rick's next major find. actually, the 39-year-old milwaukee native found him on the jewish dating website jdate. what was it about rick that caught your attention? >> well, i had certain parameters i wasn't gonna go with. an attorney was one of the guys i would not date. but as i was looking through, i saw he was from wisconsin. and i sent him an e-mail that said, "you can't be that big of a jerk if you're from wisconsin." >> in 2007, rick and shelly move in together. did you want to marry him right away? >> i actually told rick i would never, never, never get married again. i was married once before. but as the years went by, we were talking about it.
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>> then, at the age of only 56, rick cigel's health suddenly starts to fail. he suffers a stroke in 2012. the following year, there's more bad medical news. >> we were told he had stage 4 colorectal cancer. >> did your life change in that instant? >> yeah. yeah, it did. i was never so scared of losing somebody in my life. >> his days numbered, rick knows he must prepare shelly to deal with what will become her strange inheritance. he doesn't want her to keep it all but to sell it, hopefully to space nuts like him. that's when shelly comes to realize how vast and valuable rick's collection is. i heard it was enough to fill a warehouse. >> yes. >> there's a survival radio from mercury 9, a checklist from apollo 17, and this apollo hand controller for adjusting altitude.
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then shelly clocks in this old camera, a hasselblad 500c. >> when i found it, i said to him, "oh, i used to take pictures with a camera like this in high school." and he laughed at me. said, "oh, no. you definitely didn't take a picture with something like this." >> that and a lot more is next. >> announcer: but first, our "strange inheritance" quiz question. in a radio transmission from apollo 8, the astronauts reported seeing an object flying near them. what did they say it was? the answer in a moment.
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♪ >> announcer: so, what did the apollo 8 astronauts say was flying near them? take a listen to command module pilot jim lovell. >> the stars align all too briefly for soul mates rick cigel and shelly lokietz. at the age of 57, rick learns he has stage 4 cancer and may only have months to get his affairs in order. in his life before shelly, rick amassed a huge collection of space memorabilia, now destined to become shelly's strange inheritance.
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it includes hundreds of items you'd expect to find in a nasa warehouse or a museum, like, for instance, the udvar-hazy center in virginia, part of the smithsonian's air and space museum. i asked curator jennifer levasseur how all those artifacts could end up in the garage of a guy like rick cigel. and nasa just let astronauts take home stuff from their missions? >> that tended to happen quite a bit more up and through the end of the apollo period. astronauts often took home memorabilia. afterwards, shuttle astronauts had to give everything back. >> for example, those cameras from the mercury missions. >> the first astronaut to take one to space was wally schirra on his mercury mission. he was an amateur photographer, and they got some more in order to train with them and then, of course, take them to space. >> how important was photography in space? >> it's really fundamental to everything that we understand as people who can't go their ourselves. it's a tremendous value to
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scientists who started to study weather from space. so, this is kind of the early phases of learning about the earth. >> now they're sought after by collectors, some selling for six figures. so, looking to provide shelly a cash cushion and a crash course in selling space memorabilia, rick cigel asks his friend, a new hampshire auction executive, bobby livingston to unload his rare hasselblad. >> that's the first time he told me that he -- he was dying, that he had cancer. i'll never forget it. >> livingston knows rick's anxious to complete a sale quickly but must verify the camera is an original that flew into space. turns out it isn't that simple. rick bought it from mercury astronaut gordon cooper in 1995 for $19,000. and he gives the auction house two letters of authenticity to prove it, along with actual photos that the astronaut said
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were taken from space with that camera. "i took the photographs with a hasselblad camera. the serial number on the camera body is tv 45279." but when the auction house submits the camera for expert analysis, the results surprise everyone. did it end up being gordon cooper's camera? >>t did not. >> uh-oh. that's next. >> announcer: here's another quiz question for you. how many of the original seven mercury astronauts walked on the moon? is it... the answer in a moment. we needed 30 new hires for our call center.
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>> announcer: so, how many of the original seven mercury astronauts walked on the moon? only one -- alan shepard during the apollo 14 mission. >> it's 2014 in los angeles. shelly lokietz and her longtime boyfriend, rick cigel, are stunned when rick is diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. >> rick said he felt like charlie brown with lucy and the football. and i said, "you're not gonna die. we're gonna -- we're gonna get this -- you're gonna get better." >> but rick seems to know the end is near, and he's determined to give shelly a head start on dealing with the strange and valuable inheritance he'll leave her -- a huge collection of space memorabilia. it took him decades to amass, and he may only have months to live. >> he really saw his mortality. he wanted these items to go to people that would appreciate them like he did. >> of the hundreds of items,
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rick zeroes in on this hasselblad camera for a quick and easy sale. he bought it from astronaut gordon cooper, who stated, in writing, that he used it snap some of the earliest pictures from outer space in 1963. but it now appears that couldn't be true. the auction house gets a confusing report from the authenticator. what was the news? >> it's not authentic. >> a fake? >> it's the proper period, but this camera was not gordon cooper's. >> how did you know that it wasn't gordon cooper's? it came with a letter saying it was. >> this scratch right here -- that's the smoking gun. >> houston, we have a problem. it takes precious days to solve the mystery. the key clue comes when the auction house compares rick's camera with the one wally schirra took into space the year before cooper's flight. >> our forensic expert, with
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photographic evidence, was able to find scuff marks that matched exactly to schirra's camera. this is schirra's camera, taken in 1962, and it matches exactly to the one that rick bought. >> so, rick thought he was buying gordon cooper's space camera, but he was really buying wally schirra's. but how could that be? >> they took home each other's things, but both astronauts sold their cameras believing that this was schirra's and this was cooper's. >> far from being a problem, it turns out to be a good thing. schirra was the first guy to take it up in space. this is the most famous hasselblad there is. >> so, wait a minute. that sounds like it's worth more. >> it is worth a lot more, not only financially but historically. i mean, this is the most important hasselblad ever made. >> when the auction is announced online, it's no surprise the camera catches the eye of filmmaker and space historian
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keith haviland. >> it's the first such device that captured images of the quality necessary to give a sense of the world as it is -- the blue, fragile planet on which we live. >> then comes the live auction in boston on november 13th, 2014. >> our first item is the first hasselblad camera in space. >> haviland makes the winning bid, a whopping $275k. >> sold! >> when it arrived, i mean, that was a magic moment, holding it in my hands for the first time. >> there will be one more strange twist involving that hasselblad. but not before, back in los angeles, rick's health worsens. he has time to get just one last thing done. >> he said, "would you still want to get married, knowing that you could be a widow so soon?" >> mm. >> i said, "i would rather be
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your wife for one day than to be your, quote, girlfriend of eight years." >> you ever regret the decision to marry with him being so ill? >> no, because i have his name. and that was the other thing i said to him. "i want your name." >> the doctors remove his breathing tube for a few moments, and a justice of the peace marries the couple. >> right before he died, he opened his eyes one last time. he looked at me, and he squeezed my hand. and that was it. his heart just stopped. >> on the same day she is a bride, shelly is a widow. and soon, she will have to deal with her strange inheritance. >> there's no way i could go through everything. i think there were things that rick forgot he even had. >> but there's one thing rick did not forget. you get a call that he has another little something for
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you. >> yes. >> that's next. what's your strange inheritance story? we'd love to hear it. send me an e-mail or go to our website, strangeinheritance.com. when you think about success, what does it look like? is it becoming a better professor by being a more adventurous student? is it one day giving your daughter the opportunity she deserves? is it finally witnessing all the artistic wonders of the natural world? whatever your definition of success is, helping you pursue it, is ours. t-i-a-a.
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♪ >> announcer: and now, the conclusion of "strange inheritance." >> in 2015, shelly cigel inherits the daunting task of dealing with her late husband, rick's, enormous space collection -- thousands of relics accumulated over a lifetime. >> i think there were things that rick forgot he even had. >> having just watched a space camera rick bought for $19,000 bring in $275k, she reaches out to rick's friend bobby livingston for help. >> there's no way i could go through everything. we had so many different things, even from the astronauts themselves. >> she starts small and puts 20 items on the auction block.
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shelly follows the action from what is now her home in brentwood, california. >> what was that like for you? >> that was the first time i watched an auction by myself, without rick. >> among the artifacts, a buzz aldrin-signed life magazine cover goes for $530. a piece of mercury 4 cable fetches $1,300. an apollo light meter -- $1,700. michael collins' slide rule -- $3,000. gene cernan's apollo 17 checklist -- $4,800. gordon cooper's command wings -- $6,000. a soviet cosmonaut's soyuz 17 film cannister -- $13,000. and prices keep going up. take cooper's survival radio. >> in case he needed to communicate with nasa, should he be lost somewhere, if he crashed out in the desert. what do you think this sold for?
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>> $10,000? >> very close. a little under $15,000. >> and this apollo altitude controller fetches $74,000. >> i kept saying to rick, "we did it. we did it." >> how much did you get? >> um... >> a lot. >> a lot. yeah. >> shelly's final tally for the auction -- over $100k. but a big part of shelly's strange inheritance remains, like that monkey chair, nasa instrument panel, autographed photos, and full-size replica space capsule, plus hundreds more artifacts. shelly hopes to find a buyer for them someday. and who knows what it all might be worth? do you feel that you fulfilled rick's wish in having the items you sold recently get into the hands of other people who will appreciate them as much? >> oh, absolutely.
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you realize that these are people who know what they're buying. these are once-in-a-lifetime items. these things don't come up again. >> and now, that final twist we promised was coming. you get a call that he has another little something for you. >> yes. >> it was just a few days after her husband's funeral. an e-mail appears in shelly's in-box. it's from an auction house telling her that, before he died, rick had bid on a rare wedding ring. >> an e-mail popped up that said, "congratulations. you won the ring by proxy bid." when rick was in the hospital, he put a secret bid in. where everybody should be thinking about him, he was always thinking about me. >> someone still had to pay for it, but it seems rick thought of that, too. remember that space camera rick was so anxious to sell?
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bobby livingston wires some of that cash, and just like that, a package arrives. >> i opened it up, and it was more beautiful than i imagined. >> rick had good taste. >> yeah, he did. >> now, that's a "strange inheritance" story. one look at shelly and you can tell she's over the moon. roger that, mission control. it is kind of amazing that more than half of americans living todaweret ev borwhenan lastalkeon t moo we, ateastne sce-trism company is taking reservations for a to-be-determined blast-off date. shelly wishes rick would have lived to see such a day. he would have done anything to get one of those boarding passes and no doubt return with some incredible photos and souvenirs for his collection. i'm jamie colby for "strange inheritance." thanks so much for watching, and
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remember -- you can't take it with you. >> it's one of the largest armies of its kind. >> i think that he was obsessed. >> soldiers of fortune -- and a fortune in soldiers. >> do you have any idea what it's worth? >> yes, we know what it's worth. >> can i know what it's worth? >> the man who raised this army was on a mission... >> he was a true historian. he wanted to bring these battles to life. >> but is it a bridge too far for his heirs? >> he left you with a huge responsibility, didn't he? >> it's just too difficult. >> it's kind of interesting that toy soldiers would get their own trust. >> i don't have my own trust, but they got theirs. [ theme music plays ]

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