The Van Trump Report

Modern-Day Indiana Jones Found His Fortunes From the Sky

Thirty years after dropping out of college to chase meteorites across the globe, Michael Farmer, the son of a cattle rancher is calling it quits as he sends 84 pieces of his collection to Christie’s Auction House to be sold tomorrow, April 6th. You can check out all the items up at auction HERE.

Farmer’s obsession with rocks started as a child when he would search for crystals, petrified wood, and Native American artifacts on his father’s cattle ranch in Arizona. After a stint in the army, he enrolled in school in Tucson, AZ which is also home to the annual Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase. 

Farmer attended his first gem show in Tucson in 1995 and found this guy selling meteorites and wrote him a check for $60 to buy one. Turns out the check bounced and the dealer spent three weeks trying to get paid. Eventually, the dealer got his money and a year later Farmer returned to the expo and persuaded the same dealer to give him a job. Farmer not only got the job but the gentleman really took him under his wing. It didn’t take long before Farmer started trading meteorites himself on the relatively new auction website, eBay, where he was often buying one for $10 and then selling it for $100. In a matter of a couple of years, he was selling hundreds of rocks a week.

His life changed in 1998 when he was the first to arrive on the scene in Morocco where he acquired a very large moon rock known as a lunar meteorite. I’m told initially he didn’t know what he had, but it turned out the specimen was worth about a million dollars, leading Farmer to drop out of college and go full time.

All told, Farmer has traveled to more than +70 countries in search of his next great find. According to Farmer, the Sahara and other deserts in Africa make meteorites easier to find than many other terrains and also help keep them well preserved. I should mention that in a single day in Oman, Famer found 18 meteorites just laying out in the desert. That find alone he estimates has made him +$2 million.

Farmer says that at the height of his career, he was one of about 20 hardcore meteorite hunters chasing the rocks, and if you had visited his home in Phoenix, you would have seen that next to the front door there was a row of packed bags, one packed for a trio to the Arabian desert, another for a trip to the Arctic wastelands, and a third was ready for a trip to the rainforest. According to Farmer, speed was everything, and minutes count. 

When asked about his most expensive find, he shares that it was in a place called Springwater in Saskatchewan, where he found a group of pallasites. He sold the largest piece for over a million dollars to the government, who put it in the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto as a national treasure. (Source: NatGeo,

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