The lunar rock was about the size of a bowling ball and weighed almost eight kilos, one of the larger samples collected during the Apollo missions, but it had never been examined until now. Within weeks of it returning to Earth with the Apollo 17 crew on 19 December 1972, it had vanished from its storage area at the Lunar Sample Laboratory Facility in Huston, Texas.
Federal investigators were notified when, after the death of wealthy art and antiquities collector Lawrence Rodriquez, it was discovered in a private vault located under his Boca Raton mansion. It was believed to have passed from one private party to another between the mid-1970s and 2001 when Rodriquez acquired it and locked it away with other illegally obtained artifacts. That was in 2011. Now, four years later, Leo Warner requisitioned it for study by his team.
Unfortunately in the nearly forty years since it had gone missing, it had been carelessly handled and allowed exposure to air, contaminating the surface of the specimen. However, it was still possible that the interior was preserved and to that end, a small core sample was about to be taken.