This Guy Has Owned the Moon Since 1980 Because He Says So
Becoming a planet owner is a lot easier than you might think. All you have to do is take a quick glance at an astronomical map, pick out whichever planet or moon tickles your fancy, tell everyone you own it, and you’re set. It’s a little like telling a man in a bar that you own his freshly bought pint because you say you do, only less dangerous because there’s no one to hospitalize you in outer space.
Dennis M. Hope is an American man who did just that and is now planet overlord of the moon, Mars, Venus, Mercury, and Io (one of Jupiter’s moons). Dennis happened to be broke when he started collecting planets and worked out a way to monetize his new hobby: claim legal ownership via the UN, subdivide his extra-terrestrial land and sell it off in chunks. It’s probably about the best business model I’ve ever heard of (besides Ponzi schemes, obviously—those things are golden), which may be why Dennis has been able to use the celestial property game as his sole source of income since 1995.
My dad was gifted a nugget of moon for his birthday this year from Dennis’ company, Moon Estates, which reminded me of all the times I’d heard about similar gifts and thought, This is is dumb, how can anybody own the moon? So I gave Dennis a call to help put my cynicism to bed.
The author’s dad’s deed to land on the moon.
VICE: Hi Dennis. How did you end up owning and selling off chunks of the moon?
Dennis M. Hope: I started in 1980 when I was going through a divorce. I was out of money and thought maybe I could make some if I owned some property, then I looked out the window, saw the moon, and thought, Hey, there’s a load of property! So I went to the library, looked up the 1968 Outer Space Treaty and, sure enough, Article 2 stated: “No nation by appropriation shall have sovereignty or control over any of the satellite bodies.” Meaning it was unowned land.
But how did you acquire it?
I just filed a claim of ownership for the moon, the other eight planets and their moons, and sent it to the United Nations with a note stating that my intent was to subdivide and sell the property to anybody who wanted it. I told them that if they had a legal problem with it they should please let me know.
Did they ever get back to you?
They never responded. Shame on them! I’ve never had a challenge to my claim of ownership by any government on this planet, period. I’ve had a lot of people telling me I don’t have the right to do this, but that’s just their opinion.
So how much land have you sold so far?
Well, this is the only job I’ve had since 1995, which is when I started doing this full-time. We’ve sold 611 million acres of land on the moon, 325 million acres on Mars and a combined 125 million acres on Venus, Io, and Mercury.