This weekend the Times publishes an absolutely fascinating six-minute-long interview with Dennis Hope, a Nevada resident who has been selling properties on the moon and other planets since 1980. Struggling for money after a divorce, Hope saw the potential when he when "looked out the window and saw the moon and said, 'There's a lot of property,'" he explains, detailing how 1967's Outer Space Treaty, the basis for international space law, does not explicitly put forth restrictions on individuals owning "satellite bodies" beyond the reaches of Earth. After filing a declaration of ownership with the United Nations and never hearing back with any "legal problems" about his "claim of ownership," Hope, who has a self-described "honesty quirk" about him, launched his brokerage and is now developing plans for a "lunar embassy." He's sold about 600M acres on the moon (a figure growing by 200 properties a day), charges $24 a property, regardless of where on the moon it's located, and has sold plots to 5.7M people hailing from 193 countries on the globe so far. (Somewhere out there, Elon Musk and Newt Gingrich are smiling.) Anyway, the Op-Doc, written and directed by filmmaker Simon Ennis, has more quotes than one can possibly know what to do with. Take it away, Dennis!
9. "There are some people that are selling properties in outer space that don't own the land. As far as I'm concerned they're criminal in their intent."
8. "If you try and sell something and use deceit, it dimishes you as a human being."
7. "This is as real as any other properties you can buy on earth."
6. "The average sale we make are 2.2 properties per person—some are gifts. Seventeen percent of the people who buy land from us buy it for its novelty idea."
5. "The pyramid that we're building will have embassies for every government on this planet, including some of the non-Earth-based governments that we are in touch with occasionally, which I can't speak about too much, but they are here, and they are in existence, and they'll have embassies there as well."
4. "I've been called a crook, a fraud, a scam artist. I've never seen myself that way at all. And it's not that I'm the brightest person in the block or anything like that, it's just that I had an idea, and I've followed through for the last 30 years."
3. "In 1999, a person [...] emailed me and told me that he claimed ownership to the sun and he was charging me $30M a year for the energy he put out for all the planetary bodies that I owned. I waited a couple of days and wrote back to him and said, 'I don't want your energy, please turn it off.'"
2. "I've always looked at myself as a pioner. I've always thought differently; I think outside the box, actually now I'm thinking outside the planet."
1. "If people own land, you have a good feeling about the fact that you're an accomplished person, you're successful. And even if you own land on the moon, there's the opportunity to think, 'Maybe someday. Maybe I won't make it, maybe my kids won't make it, but maybe my grandkids will be able to go up there and utilize the property.'"
UPDATE: See more of Hope in Lunarcy!—Ennis' full-length documentary about this very subject—which will premiere on EPIX on April 3.
· "The Man Who Sells the Moon" [NYT]