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Astronaut’s hair sparks legal hubbub

The first man to walk on the moon, Neil Armstrong, has threatened to sue a barbershop owner who collected the former astronaut’s hair after a trim and sold it for $3,000.
Marx Sizemore, owner of Marx's Barber Shop, stands at a chair inside the shop in Lebanon, Ohio. The barber has stirred up controversy by selling the clipped hair of a famous former patron, Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong, to a collector.David Kohl / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

Apollo moon mission astronaut Neil Armstrong has threatened to sue a barbershop owner who sold the spaceman’s hair trimmings for $3,000. The buyer said Wednesday he won’t return the locks but will donate the purchase price to charity.

Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, used to go to Marx’s Barber Shop in Lebanon about once a month for a cut. That stopped when he learned that owner Marx Sizemore had collected his hair clippings from the floor and sold them in May 2004 for $3,000.

The buyer, John Reznikoff of Westport, Conn., is a collector listed by the Guinness World Records as having the largest collection of hair from historical celebrities. His collection, insured for $1 million, purportedly includes hair from Abraham Lincoln, Marilyn Monroe, Albert Einstein and Napoleon.

Sizemore, who admits selling the hair, said Armstrong asked him to try to retrieve it. He said he told Armstrong that the buyer did not want to give up the locks. Then, Sizemore said he got a letter from the former astronaut’s attorney contending that the sale violated an Ohio law designed to protect the rights of famous people.

The letter threatens legal action if Sizemore does not return the hair or contribute his profit to charity and asks Sizemore to pay Armstrong’s legal expenses. But Sizemore said he will not pay and has already spent most of the $3,000 on bills.

Reznikoff said Wednesday that he won’t give the hair back, but will donate $3,000 to a charity. He said he decided to make the donation after reading news accounts that said the former astronaut had threatened to sue.

“I bought it for my collection, and I plan to keep it,” Reznikoff said. “I called Armstrong’s lawyer today to tell him I would donate the money, but I haven’t received a response yet.”

Reznikoff said he remembers the thrill he had as a 9-year-old watching as Armstrong commanded NASA’s Apollo 11 mission in 1969 and took the first steps on the moon. “Neil Armstrong has always been one of my heroes.”

Armstrong, who lives in suburban Cincinnati, left the space program in 1971 to teach aeronautical engineering at the University of Cincinnati. He seldom appears at public functions or grants interviews. His attorney, Ross Wales, did not immediately return a call seeking comment on Wednesday.