Did the Prussians own the Moon?
In the mid 18th century the Prussian King Frederick the Great suffered heavily from gout. Often he would go to a local farmer named Aul Jurgens, who supposedly had healing powers and would cure the King of his afflictions. For his services, on July 5th, 1756, the Prussian King awarded Aul Jurgens ownership of the Moon, to be passed down to the youngest born son until the end of time. Well done to Frederick the Great, who gifted something he really didn’t own and something which Aul Jurgens could never take possession of.
240 years later, an American man named Dennis Hope caught on to an interesting idea. According to the 1967 Outer Space Treaty no nation can claim extraterrestrial territory. However, the treaty says nothing about private individuals owning extraterrestrial real estate. Thus in 1980 he sent a letter to the UN claiming ownership of the Moon, then registered ownership of the heavenly body at his local county courthouse. Since then he’s been selling lunar real estate for $19.99 an acre through his business “The Lunar Embassy”. Buyers receive a deed “certified by the United States, Soviet Union (which now doesn’t exist but is still on the deed), and the United Nations”. According to Hope, he has sold 611 million acres of the Moon, totaling over $12 billion in sales. That would make him almost three times richer than earthly real estate mogul Donald Trump, but hey, who’s counting? As a result, Hope calls himself the richest man in the solar system. He also claims that among his clientele were George H. W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, and Jimmy Carter. Peashooter doubts the veracity of his claims. All of them.
In the meantime a German man named Martin Jurgens received word of Dennis Hope and his exploits. As a direct descendent of Aul Jurgens, Martin is the inheritor of the Moon as decreed by Frederick the Great. Martin sent a letter to Hope in 1996 informing him of his rightful ownership of the Moon, demanding that he cease and desist, and ordering him to issue refunds to all his clients. Hope, however, refused to concede that Martin was the true owner of the Moon. When Hope continued selling lunar real estate, Martin turned to the German Government to do something about it. The case went to the Institute for Air and Space Law in Cologne. The issue among the Institute was whether either Martin’s or Hope’s claim of ownership was valid. For Martin, the Institute ruled that because Frederick the Great had never stepped on the Moon, had no means to travel to the Moon, and could claim no practical possession of the Moon, it was not his property and he had no right to offer ownership to anyone. For Hope, the Institute also ruled that he had no valid ownership over the Moon because he also had not stepped foot on it, nor had any means to claim it.
Jurgens has since called the ruling ridiculous, citing that German law has recognized all other land claims originating from Frederick the Great. Why not his? Dennis Hope ignored the ruling and continued to sell lunar real estate. Recently he has expanded his business, claiming ownership over Mercury, Venus, Mars, and the Jovian moon called Io, and offers land for sale to any willing to buy. When Pluto was downgraded to planetoid status, he claimed ownership of it as well, now offering it for $250,000. If you are a prospective extraterrestrial land owner, you can visit his website below.