Property on moon
Logo of Lunar Embassy
Lunar deed, map and bill of rights
Claims of number of clients
Ramesh Sharma and Madhu Sharma show documents related to their ownership of property at moon - Photo by Pradeep Tewari
Sea of Tranquility and its neighborhood areas that are up for sale
A friend of mine asked me if I was interested in buying land on moon. Apparently, he came to know about a company in USA, which claims that it is the only entity "to possess a legal basis and copyright for the sale of lunar, and other extraterrestrial property within the confines of our solar system." I could not decide whether to moan, cry or get crazy. I was sure it was an internet hoax and my friend was just getting cynical about it. So, I decided to do some research and come up with the full story on buying land on moon. This hub is a summary on the business of selling lunar land and whether it is legitimate or not. Hope you are not an owner.
Who is selling land on moon?
Lunar Embassy is the company, which claims to have been in the business of selling Lunar Property for over 25 years to over 3.4 million customers. It has granted the rights to a couple of associated websites along with the main website to sell lunar land to corporations and individuals. The mastermind behind the lunar real estate development is Dennis Hope, who claims to have secured legal ownership of the moon and most other bodies in the solar system. Approximately 20 years ago, Hopes registered a claim to the surface of Earth's moon and the eight other planets and their satellites with the U.S. government. He also sent notice of this claim the Russian government and the United Nations. Thus began the celestial race of buying and selling land on moon.
There are many other companies, which are selling land on the moon as well, but it seems that Lunar Embassy is the first and biggest. In the United States alone, at least a dozen private ventures are looking at ways to reach the moon commercially, including efforts by SpaceDev, Idealab, TransOrbital and LunaCorp.
What are they selling on moon?
Depending on which website you are visiting, you can buy an acre of "prime real estate" on the moon - with great Earth views - starting $18.95 per acre and going up to $37.50 per acre. You also have "buy two - get discount" offers, 10 acre packages, The original range of exclusive lunar related gifts including 1 acre and 10 acre deeds for Land on the Moon and many other "attractive" packages. (See rate card at the bottom).
You also get Lunar Deed, which is your document of ownership of land on moon. See the excerpt from the Lunar Embassy website:
"This deed is printed on high quality parchment paper, with gold heading, and the name of the owner is specially printed in the centre. The whole deed is framed in a high quality frame ready for hanging on the wall. (Please Note: Delivery for ten acre plots can take up to 21 days.)"
In addition to the plot and deed, buyers also receive a site map, a copy of the lunar constitution bill of rights and a copy of Hope's declaration of ownership filed with the U.S. government. There's also a 30-day money back guarantee.
The properties are legally considered "novelty gifts". Hope opines that using the novelty term "can help avoid any frivolous lawsuits from a foreign country."
Are people really buying land on moon?
You will be shocked. News articles and the seller websites claim that the number of buyers is anywhere between 2 to 3.4 million people from over 176 countries. Over 300 million acre of lunar land has been sold so far and the number is rising fast.
According to these websites, among their million plus clients are many hollywood celebrities, two ex-U.S. presidents, fifteen Star Trek actors, NASA employees and at least 250 very well recognized faces and celebrities.
What are the current trends in the lunar real estate market?
Unlike the US housing market, the land prices are 'skyrocketing' on moon. The cost (including the lunar tax) of a 18,000 acres plot was about $27 in 2000, but now we have to shell out approximately the same amount for just one acre. Of course, the most expensive plot in the "Sea of Tranquility" region of moon comes for nearly $40 an acre. I am poor in Math, but you can imagine the returns.
But is selling land on moon legitimate?
Here comes the big catch. All this talk of buying land is fine but does the seller have legitimate title to sell lunar land? Popular answer among the learned people is a BIG NO.
Lunar Embassy's basis for their claim on moon is that the UN Outer Space Treaty of 1967 forbids governments from owning extraterrestrial property, but doesn't mention anything about individuals or corporations. This is certainly a loophole worth exploring, but in his celestial quest, Hopes chooses to ignore some essential points.
1. The 1967 outer space treaty said space "was to remain just like the high seas, free for use by all."
The existing laws forbid use of celestial bodies and their resources for profit making ventures. These bodies are only for further exploration to enrich the knowledge we have about universe. If you are selling lunar land, even in the name of gifts, it comes under the domain of a profit making venture, hence not allowed.
2. Individuals and corporations can claim ownership of land only through governments.
According to Von Der Dunk, co-director of the International Institute for Air and Space Law at Leiden University in the Netherlands, "As soon as you go into private properties rights, you end up in national rule. The rights of private ownership depend on one national jurisdiction or another."
His point is made valid by the interpretation that without a national system in space, there is no way for a citizen to authenticate a claim. The treaty, by forbidding nations from appropriating territory in space, essentially prevents individuals from doing the same.
3. If nobody owns the lunar land, then how can Lunar Embassy own it.
John Pike, a space policy analyst at the Federation of American Scientists says, "The bottom line is, he (Hopes) can't own property on the moon unless he's got a government to back him up. No one is claiming sovereignty rights on the moon. And if any government did, I'd be very skeptical that any other government would recognize that claim."
Therefore, my personal opinion on the issue is that this certificate which claims that you own part of the Moon is not legally binding. For the $30 bucks you'd pay for an acre of lunar land, you will end up owning just a worthless piece of paper. Though, I believe, you could still auction it on eBay and some serious collector of lunar land title deeds may purchase it at half the price.
Why don't I firmly say that selling land on moon is 100% illegal?
So far, no government has explicitly put an end to the argument or opposed Hopes' venture. All the comments and interpretation have come from analysts and people who specialize in matters related to universe, celestial bodies and even law and policies. As I see it, there may be two reasons behind it:
1. A government can't do anything because by definition, it has nothing to do with the title of lunar land
2. The money involved is not big enough right now, so governments and authorities are showing a very casual attitude towards the entire issue. Otherwise, even if the government can't oppose Hope's venture as owner of the celestial body, it can probably entertain a fraud case or a public interest litigation against the company.
What is the future of land selling business on moon?
As an article on space.com questions, what if a serious corporate enters the lunar land real estate and starts exploration? Probably, that is the event all nations are waiting for as a trigger to formalize the concerned laws. Whatever the trigger be, sooner or later, the nations will come together and keep individuals or corporations out of this business. Imagine NASA taking permission from you to land on your chunk of moon land. Do you seriously think US government is going to entertain such a scenario?
What is the future of Lunar Embassy and James Hopes?
Amid the confusion and lack of a firm explanation from an authentic body, Hopes is earning serious fortune. His website and venture is still working and he is still racking in mullah. Even if ten years down the line, nations come together and declare that he can't sell lunar land, he would be a billionaire by then.
What happens then? Do people who ‘invested' in lunar land get their money back along with the capital appreciation? Does he get convicted in a fraud case? Or does he become the greatest hoax success ever? I leave the answers to your own imagination.
I came to know
Chinese authorities have shut down this scheme in China on charges of "profiteering and lunacy."
Rate of land by location
marie on April 26, 2013:
My fiancé just bought me a piece of the moon. I think its really a romantic thing to do. It only cost him 40 bucks and I dont think its a waste of money. Many people blow 40 bucks a day on eating out or just shopping. My fiancé loves investing as well and is always taking risks so if this is something that may one day become a great investment then great. But just the fact he "bought me a small part of the moon" is wonderful. And I do agree with Delia. There is power in numbers.
ScruyLouie on April 24, 2013:
PS...I KNOW THAT IT IS LAW, AT LEAST FOR THE EASTERN HALF OF THE U.S. (as the laws are based on old English law) THAT NO ONE CAN OWN THE AIR RIGHTS TO ANY PROPERTY. INCLUDING DEEDED LAND OWNERS. THE WESTERN U.S. IS BASED ON THE NEW WEST LAW BUT IM BETTING ITS THE SAME. OTHERWISE SOMEONE, ANYONE COULD COME ALONG & BUILD ONTOP OF YOUR HOUSE OR BUILDING.
ScruyLouie on April 24, 2013:
I AM OUTRAGED FOR 2 REASONS; 1) MOST OF YOU IGNORANT NIMRODS NEVER EVEN READ STOOGES ARTICLE. EITHER THAT OR YOU WERE NOT INTELLIGENT ENOUGH TO UNDERSTAND IT! PERHAPS YOUR STUPIDITY MEANS YOU SHOULD DESERVE SUCH FRAUDULENCE PERPETUATED UPON YOU. AT LEAST 50% OF YOU ARE ASKING THE DUMBEST QUESTIONS OR MAKING REALLY STUPID COMMENTS WHICH PROVE YOU NEVER READ THE ARTICLE BECAUSE, IF YOU DID, YOU WOULD SEE THAT YOU'RE ASKING UNINTELLIGENT QUESTIONS. YOUR ANSWERS ARE ALL THERE! IT IS A GREAT ARTICLE. GO BACK AND READ IT! DUMMIES! 2) THE 1967 OUTER SPACE TREATY MAKES IT CLEAR AS DAY!!! NO ONE CAN ACTUALLY OWN PLOTS OF LAND ON THE MOON, POINT BLANK! DING DING DING! YOU'RE DONE! IM OUTRAGED THAT IGNORANT PEOPLE ARE BEING SCREWED OUT OF THEIR HARD EARNED MONEY, WHILE THIS COOK GETS RICHER & RICHER. I JUST SAW THIS CROOK ON A TALK SHOW TODAY. ARROGANT AS ALL GET UP!!! I SIMPLY CANT BELIEVE THAT SOMEONE, ESPECIALLY THE U.S. GOVERNMENT HASN'T PUT A STOP TO THIS!!! IT IS WRONG ON ALL LEVELS! THE U.S. GOVERNMENT SHOULD HAVE PUT AN END TO THIS FRAUD A LONG TIME AGO! FRANKLY, ITS DISGUSTING AND ABHORRENT THAT HOPES IS ALLOWED TO GET AWAY WITH THIS!
WeaselADAPT on December 03, 2012:
Well said, Delia! I couldn't agree more. Who cares, as long as you know it's just for fun?
However, I believe there are probably a good many people out there (maybe well over 50% of "lunar deed" buyers) who actually think they are purchasing rights to land plots on the moon.
I stumbled across LunarLand.com (one of "the Embassy's" websites) while looking for a dynamic representation of the solar system. Even though the website screamed scam--no matter which of its links you went to, you never found any real answers, and almost every link fed you the same non-info--and even though a few of the holes in the logic that have been mentioned here occurred to me--most notably, "How could this place, this guy, own (much less sell to me!) property that NASA may need to land on? They can't have to check 'the registry' before plotting their course!"--even though it didn't add up, I was still very tempted, not to buy but to believe. "Property rights are huge in any setting," I argued with myself, "of course someone is selling the moon's land (even though the temperature ranges from -150 to 275 F--they could fix that someday!) Why shouldn't I buy a plot while it's still cheap?"
Then reason crept back in, and then it went away again, and here I am, a few hours later, happy that Stooge did this research--and happy that my searches revealed it. Now I can kick myself and go to sleep!
Oh, my point: I hope this guy gets sued soon before my grandparents see the "offer".
syed nayeem on October 22, 2012:
Whom should we buy the land from....... whom do we need to pay.....what is some one claims my land in future...are there any courts there.......this is ridiculous.... don't know what to say ....
:/ on May 23, 2012:
Hey if people want to do it they can like Delia said people waste money on much more worthless crap and hey what if one day they do have land on the moon and your stuck here;) with the advances there making in these things if I want to buy some land I might be able too go there when I'm 90 just keep an open mind it will definitely be cheaper then living here and I think I'll buy some
bill gates on April 10, 2012:
Hello?????????what r u fools talkin abt,the moon belongs to me,i will gift it to obama
muhammad on February 10, 2012:
is this real or scam
ellahall2011 on September 19, 2011:
Informative hub. Thanks for posting.
Delia on July 08, 2011:
I don't think it is a matter of being schemed, I think people are just big dreamers. People sell stars too (and yes I bought one for my daughter as a gift), not because I am stupid, but because the idea of it is cool. To dedicate a star in someone's name (or own a piece of the moon). People buy stuff that isn't worth buying everyday. But if having a cheap deed to the moon hanging on my wall makes me happy- so be it. I plan to buy one! There is power in numbers, and who knows- maybe one day the people with deeds with have a right!
clinto on December 22, 2010:
well is a lie
ramzan10 on October 31, 2010:
How could you talk about New Zealand without mentioning Waiheke Island? The weather is warmer and dryer than Auckland; much of the island never gets a frost. There are several beautiful beaches, 30+ vineyards, olive groves, plenty of space to walk or hike with no snakes huge spiders etc. Really, Australia just doesn't compare!
tal on October 30, 2010:
IIIIIIIIIIII WWWWWAAAAAANNNNNNNNTTTT TTTTTTTTTOOOOOO BBBBBBBBBBBBBUUUUUUUUUUUUYYYYYYYYYY LLLLLLLLLLLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANNNNNNNNDDDDDDDD OOOOOOOOONNNNNNNNNNN TTTTTTTTTTTHHHHHHHHHHHEEEEEEEEEEE MMMMMMMMMMMMMMOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONNNNNNNNN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Stooge (author) on June 23, 2009:
Thanks for your comments all. I have been keepin busy so been out of touch. Apologies.
Apeksha, they are already selling it. Go before the stock lasts :-0)
Apeksha Waychal from India. on June 12, 2009:
oh! I would buy 1000 sq ft on moon then .plz contact me when it will happen...
Raven King from Cabin Fever on March 29, 2009:
Hi Stooge. I think it's incredible that people are paying money for a potentially worthless piece of paper. People are strange.
barry on March 25, 2009:
my shortest thoughts are if more than one separate companies not affiliated with each other are selling land,chances are the same plot will be bought by different people eventually, how on earth? or how on Moon can that be legal. In any event to print and mail cost less than $10 and they collect more than $20.....well in these unfortunate times I'm happy for any one who is earning a good heap.
Julian on November 26, 2008:
I think it will be more than that when the day comes for any organization or government to be able to REALLY own some land on any extraterrestrial body.
What will happen if, for example China, arrives to the moon, and establishes a permanent base and foresees an outpost for, say, mining.
USA, Europe, japan and the whole UN could get mad about it. But, whoever physically owns the land always has a bigger chance of winning. The laws to protect Antarctica and the international waters are in stand because we need them. We all know they're good for us. And if some problem arises in the artic, the military will be deployed. We're just a couple of hours from other country's navy so we don't play with that.
But in the moon ?
We could talk about legal process, courts, UN complaints and so on. But once they get and establish there, what will be do ?
I remember the phrase: "How the west was won ?"
Stooge (author) on October 01, 2008:
Bloody brillient point n8..even earth is a celestial body so ideally governments should not have any ownership right. I like the beauty of simplicity in your comment. Its just that today's world is so complicated, these simple logical statements would be laughed upon. But yeah.. at least for me, what you said makes perfect sense from an argument point of view.
n8 on October 01, 2008:
it is funny, but what about the earth, wouldn't it be the same to say that the earth is not legally owned, so how come we have to buy our property, then they have the check to tax us for it lol
guidebaba from India on August 08, 2008:
Any Idea about the Rates?
Stooge (author) on June 12, 2008:
Thanks b opinionated. That was a very valid statement you made. Certainly land on earth is far more precious than moon for us. However, there may be a day (well past our grand children are dead) when people would actually be developing properties on moon, so you never know.
b opinionated from California on June 11, 2008:
I just wonder if we may look back at this and realize we should be spending a little more time worrying about land here then selling land on a planet I don't see us gettin to any time soon. Weird and very very interesting.
Stooge (author) on June 06, 2008:
Thanks all for writing. This is really a funny scheme, but the elan with which this guy is pulling it off is worth appreciating.
Gregorythompson from Illinois on June 06, 2008:
Very informative hub. Unfortunately, I'm looking to buy land on Pluto.....anybody know any sellers???
Jonno.Norton on June 06, 2008:
Great hub Stooge, I've only heard just a few things about lunar property, but I thought it was just a hoax. It's nice to get all the facts in one place.
Clive Fagan from South Africa on June 06, 2008:
Looking past the lunacy (pun intended). the only way anyone used to be able claim freehold land is to be physically there and stake out a claim. Only the pegged out measured claim the can be owned. Of course, intially, a nation would have to annex or take control of he land. This presupposes some other alien nation of even soveriegn earth nation did not get there first. So like the California gold rush, lets see who gets there first! Interestingly enough, Antartica is the subject of international treaties with various nations allowing each to establish a base, but no-one owns land there. Maybe Hope should try selling land in Antartica. That should land him in hot water (a first for Antartica). Ah well Hope springs eternal!
Great Hub as always!
Geyser on June 06, 2008:
You just got to love this posting. Of course you can find someone willing to sell you the moon, as if they actually own it!?! Without surprise it's some arrogant Yank that thinks they have rights to sell the moon! Mate, if it weren't for Australia, the Americans never would have been able to visit. Now some of them have the gall to attempt to sell "our" extra-terrestrial territorial lands. LOL :)
The lunar satellite orbiting the Earth belongs to "all" of its inhabitants, not just some person who "thinks" they have the right to sell the lands. I have never received any dividend or royalty payment of any of their sales, and I bet that more than 99.9999% of the other inhabitants of Earth haven't received theirs either.
Even if NASA built a house (space station) on the moon, they still don't own it. If fact, they are just very expensive SQUATTERS!!!
If there are any more suckers out there that want to blow a few thousand on a useless piece of paper that says they "own" the moon, I'd be happy to talk to you. Maybe they'd also be interested in buying the Brooklyn Bridge, the Eiffel Tower, Leaning Tower of PiSa, the planets Mars and Pluto. Oi, for a cool $50,000,000 I will sell you the Sun; and then you can charge people to use "your" sunlight!!!!
surfchicky23 from New Zealand on June 05, 2008:
This is in no way legitamate. Noone has any authority or ownership over the moon. The moon is soo large that ownership of land on the moon will not be an issue for generaions to come. The only thing that I can imagine to come close to ownership of land on the moon is if you build something on the moon. If NASA builds a space station on the moon then arguably they own the land that they have built on. They own the space station.
Bonnie Ramsey from United States on June 05, 2008:
This must be the most rediculous thing I have ever heard! And to think there are people out there falling for this is truly frightening! I knew that we had a lot of crazy people in this world but that number is staggering! LOL.
I'm with you, Stooge, I'll take 10 acres of that Manhattan skyline. At least it will be something I could enjoy or at the least, be able to visit it sometime in a jet! I can't see me flying to the mmon with the appraiser to check out the lunar scene! PLEASE! Great hub and excellent research!
Jyoti Kothari from Jaipur on June 05, 2008:
You have done a wonderful job. Since I came to know about this sale 10 years back, I advised many of my friends not to buy as it is a hoax.
many people are cheating others by doing these types of things e.g. American of the year Award.
Tony Sky from London UK on June 05, 2008:
Man, i would love to buy land on the moon as it could possibly be a great investment for our future children but im having enough problems trying to buy land here on Earth!! lol
Great hub as always stooge;)
Cailin Gallagher from New England on June 05, 2008:
Well-written Hub Stooge. I've heard of the "Name a Star" scam, but not property on the moon! Jeez! I have some ocean-front property in Arizona...
Junkster from Liverpool, UK on June 05, 2008:
I always see things in gift shops for things like this and think they're a load of BS. Who governs this? who is in charge of boundaries etc? odd stuff indeed
Constant Walker from Springfield, Oregon on June 04, 2008:
I, or my grandchildren wouldn't benefit, but Hope and his family are... and will for a long time.
Stooge (author) on June 04, 2008:
Serious? He has been sending copies of his claim to United Nations and Russian government, just to make them aware that he is the boss on moon. He has so many associate sites and if the number of clients and land sold is true, he is a big fish to catch for all the girls out there. By the way, he is also selling land on Mars, Jupiter etc and is saving Europa (Jupiter's satellite) as a reserve. Whatever he be, he surely is NOT a maniac.
CherylTheWriter from Humble, Texas (the ultimate oxymoron) on June 04, 2008:
Oh, gosh, I can't take this situation seriously enough to get outraged over it. It's hilarious! Do you really believe this guy is serious? or is it a marketing ploy?
Stooge (author) on June 04, 2008:
Thanks guys. I was hoping to elicit some outrage but it looks like this one will do better with 'funny' and 'entertainment' tags :0)
CW, hope you saw my comment for Solar above. Would you like to be a customer? Probably your great grandchildren will also get their share of laugh. Stock is limited, so hurry. Solar is already preparing the bill.
Julie, in my own opinion, I think Hope will get in trouble with law sooner or later - it was gem of a scheme but he is actually receiving money from public, and someone or other will file a suit very soon.
Julie A. Johnson from Duluth, MN on June 04, 2008:
I actually heard of this on one of the morning news shows, and I thought it was outragous. But I bet Hope is laughing all the way to the bank. Interesting stuff, Stooge. Pretty funny!
Constant Walker from Springfield, Oregon on June 04, 2008:
A very entertaining hub. I think Hope is a genius, and by the time anyone has an opportunity to claim any lunar acreage (AFTER we figure out a way to terraform, then colonize the Moon), Hope's great-great great grandchildren will take notice and laugh, from their mansions: "To grandpa Dennis!... Here, here!!!"
Stooge (author) on June 04, 2008:
Solar, thanks for always appreciating. Funny, isn't it? That guy must be worth millions now and he will soon be a billionaire if all goes well. I am off to start selling an acre of sky over Manhattan with great view. Hope you will be one of my esteemed customers? :)
solarshingles from london on June 04, 2008:
Hey Stooge, another very nice and funny story! I really enjoyed it to the last word. I think, that that man is even not going to live long enough to experience his Moon Real Estate business in its real very hostile environment of our natural satellite. Thanks, for a nice & gentle midnight laugh.
Stooge (author) on June 04, 2008:
Thanks Dutch and Trish for visiting by.
Dutch, I would rather buy something which I believe is completely legitimate.
Trish, surely buy land for your children but be sure that they are actually going to own it. Thanks for encouraging.
Gawn Fishin' from Vancouver, BC on June 04, 2008:
It might be a cute gift for my grandchildren. Some day it could be legal. Very good hub Stooge.
dutch84 on June 04, 2008:
According to the blogosphere, around 2012, you may be wishing you had bought that land.