[meteorite-list] The Man Who Sells the Moon

From: Maria Haas <dragonsoup_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Mon, 18 Jun 2007 16:10:51 -0700
Message-ID: <BAY109-DAV67B51BC625FEAF8EE858DCD130_at_phx.gbl>


The Man Who Sells the Moon
Dennis Hope has made $9 million selling space "property."
by Stephen Ornes

Dennis Hope, self-proclaimed Head Cheese of the Lunar Embassy, will promise
you the moon. Or at least a piece of it. Since 1980, Hope has raked in over
$9 million selling acres of lunar real estate for $19.99 a pop. So far, 4.25
million people have purchased a piece of the moon, including celebrities
like Barbara Walters, George Lucas, Ronald Reagan, and even the first
President Bush. Hope says he exploited a loophole in the 1967 United Nations
Outer Space Treaty, which prohibits nations from owning the moon.

Because the law says nothing about individual holders, he says, his
claim-which he sent to the United Nations-has some clout. "It was unowned
land," he says. "For private property claims, 197 countries at one time or
another had a basis by which private citizens could make claims on land and
not make payment. There are no standardized rules."

Hope is right that the rules are somewhat murky-both Japan and the United
States have plans for moon colonies-and lunar property ownership might be a
powder keg waiting to spark. But Ram Jakhu, law professor at the Institute
of Air and Space Law at McGill University in Toronto, says that Hope's
claims aren't likely to hold much weight. Nor, for that matter, would any
nation's. "I don't see a loophole," Jakhu says. "The moon is a common
property of the international community, so individuals and states cannot
own it. That's very clear in the U.N. treaty. Individuals' rights cannot
prevail over the rights and obligations of a state."

Jakhu, a director of the International Institute for Space Law, believes
that entrepreneurs like Hope have misread the treaty and that the 1967
legislation came about to block property claims in outer space.
Historically, "the ownership of private property has been a major cause of
war," he says. "No one owns the moon. No one can own any property in outer

Hope refuses to be discouraged. And he's focusing on expansion. "I own about
95 different planetary bodies," he says. "The total amount of property I
currently own is about 7 trillion acres. The value of that property is about
$100 trillion. And that doesn't even include mineral rights."
Received on Mon 18 Jun 2007 07:10:51 PM PDT

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