Abell Auction Co. is Honored to Represent the Estate of Thomas O. Paine

Abell Auction Co. is representing the estate of Dr. Thomas O. Paine, who oversaw the nation’s space program during the first manned missions to the moon.


Dr. Paine joined the space agency as its Deputy Administrator in January 1968 and was named the third Administrator in its history in March 1969. During his tenure, NASA launched the first seven Apollo missions, in which 20 astronauts orbited the earth, 14 flew to the moon and 4 walked on its surface.

He resigned from the agency in September 1970 to become a vice president and group manager at General Electric, where he had worked for 25 years before joining NASA. In 1985 President Ronald Reagan appointed him chairman of the National Commission on Space. He was appointed by President Bush to the Advisory Committee on the Future of the Space Program.

Thomas Otten Paine was born on Nov. 9, 1921, in Berkeley, Calif. He graduated from Brown University with a bachelor’s degree in engineering and received a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in physical metallurgy from Stanford University. In World War II he served as a submarine officer in the Pacific and in the Japanese occupation. He qualified in submarines and as a Navy deep-sea diver and was awarded the Commendation Medal and Submarine Combat Insignia with stars.

He began his career at General Electric in 1949 as a research associate in the company’s laboratory in Schenectady, N.Y., and later worked in its research and development center there as manager of engineering applications. From 1963 to 1968, he was manager of TEMPO, the company’s center for advanced study and research in Santa Barbara, Calif. Dr. Paine joined the Northrop Corporation in 1976 and retired in 1982.

Paine was married to Barbara Helen Taunton Pearse of Perth, Western Australia. They had four children, Marguerite Ada, George Thomas, Judith Janet, and Frank Taunton.

Abell will begin selling items from the Paine estate on Thursday, July 25, and in the following weeks. Highlighted items will be sold in the fall 2019 quarterly fine art sale.