The notion that one man can lay claim to all the extraterrestrial bodies in our little corner of the galaxy sounds preposterous. Yet Dennis M. Hope, 65, of Gardnerville, Nev., the subject of this Op-Doc video, believes just that. For three decades, he has built a thriving business by “selling” land plots in space, on places like the moon, Mars and Venus. Of course, he has no legal authority to do so. How does he get away with this? He told me that, back when he was a ventriloquist in the days before he “owned” the moon, his dummy taught him a valuable lesson: you can say anything you want to anybody as long as you smile.
Some call him a con artist. One can argue that he’s part of a hallowed American tradition, whereby land speculators sell plots of useless land on the next “frontier,” from the southern swamps to the western desert. Or maybe he’s just selling amusing “novelty items” (as his certificates acknowledge, in fine print), like pet rocks, which are perfectly legal. Personally, I think what he’s doing is acceptable. Even if Mr. Hope’s lunar land certificates have no financial value, they do seem to provide another benefit. The moon inspires awe — its white blankness is the perfect backdrop for any kind of dream we might have. Feelings of optimism and wonder can be worth quite a lot.
Full disclosure: I am a lunar property “owner” (Mr. Hope was generous enough to give me an acre at the end of our time together). Yet I have no plans to develop the land anytime soon.
For documentary, Chk this out: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/11/opini ... ef=opinion