A man in Central Tapanuli regency, North Sumatra claimed to have sold a meteorite that landed in his home for way below its predicted value.
On Aug. 1, a meteorite crashed through the roof of Josua Hutagalung’s house in Kolang district while he was working in the evening. The 34-year-old coffin maker said that he heard a noise from the sky before a loud thump at his house. When he went to look, he found a hole in the roof atop his living room and kitchen.
Josua then found the space rock some 15 centimeters deep into the earth inside his home, which he described as hot when he picked it up. The meteorite reportedly weighed around 2.1 kilograms, but was partially shattered when Josua touched it.
Officials from Josua’s district suggested that he wait for experts for advice on what to do with the space rock. He claimed to have waited for the National Institute of Aeronautics and Space (LAPAN) to pay him a visit, but eventually decided to sell the meteorite after they failed to show up.
“No one came. We waited for them for weeks. I sold it on Aug. 17, but we waited until Aug. 16, there was no response at all. Instead of letting the rock get broken by kids who played with it in my neighborhood, and it being thrown around, I sold it,” Josua said today.
At that time, LAPAN spokesman Jasyanto said the institute was not able to confirm whether the rock really was a meteorite just by looking at photos provided by Josua alone.
Josua ended up selling 1.8 kilograms of the meteorite for IDR200 million (US$14,120) to an American citizen living in Bali through an online marketplace. He kept the remaining rock for himself and his family The buyer, identified as Jared Collins, reportedly bought the meteorite for research and collection purposes.
“I myself got 5 grams, I gave the rest to my family. Someone wanted to transform it into a stone ring,” Josua said on Wednesday, adding that he won’t sell the rock he’s kept despite the high international market value.
“Five grams is only a small piece, let it be a memorabilia.”
Josua said that he has run out of meteorite money after distributing it to his family, an orphanage, and used some to build a church as well as to patch up his parents’ graves. However, he was understandably miffed when he learned that he could’ve had an even greater fortune figuratively fall on his lap — according to a report by English news outlet Daily Mail, the rock is worth 1.4 million pounds or IDR26 billion.
“It is estimated to be 4.5 billion years old and is classified as CM1/2 carbonaceous Chondrite, an extremely rare variety — worth around US$1.85 million, or US$857 per gram,” the outlet wrote, and, unaware that Josua had only sold it for a small fraction of the price, labeled him an “instant millionaire.”
“If the [price] was really IDR26 billion, I feel like I was lied to. I’m really disappointed,” Josua said.
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