A test capsule sent up to orbit three weeks before Soviet Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space sold at Sotheby's yesterday for $2.9m, above its low-end estimate.
Carrying a dog named Zvezdochka and a life size dummy known as Ivan Ivanovich, the 2.5m diameter Vostok 3KA-2 completed a single orbit of the Earth on March 25 1961.
Following yesterday's sale in New York it is now the world's most expensive item of space memorabilia.
Russian investor Evgeny Yurchenko, the capsule's new owner, commented following the auction: "The Vostok 3KA-2 space capsule is a historic artefact of the Soviet space programme.
"Until now, the Vostok 3KA-2 space capsule was the only one of its kind outside of Russia, and with the support and participation of Sotheby's I will be able to bring it home."
The capsule is expected to be placed in a Russian museum.
The Ivan Ivanovich dummy, which ejected into the Soviet countryside, can be found at the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum in Washington, DC. Zvezdochka the dog also survived the flight.
- Click here to view our space and aviation stock items for sale
- Learn how you can get pleasure and profit by investing in space memorabilia
- Read all the latest Space and Aviation news
Join our readers in more than 200 countries around the world - sign up for your free weekly Collectibles Newsletter today