OSLO: The auction of Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov’s Nobel gold medal for a whopping $103.5 million to benefit children displaced by the war in Ukraine smashed the record for Nobel medals.
The Nobel Peace Prize medal was sold to an as yet unidentified phone bidder at a sale in New York on Monday organised by Heritage Auctions.
Muratov won the medal, made of 150 grammes of 18-carat gold, in 2021 when he was awarded the Peace Prize together with Maria Ressa of the Philippines “for their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression”.
The proceeds of Monday’s sale far exceed the previous record of $4.76 million for the sale of a Nobel medal in 2014.
“Muratov consulted the Nobel committee beforehand and was assured that the Nobel committee supported his decision to sell his medal so that the proceeds could benefit children and refugees of Ukraine,” the committee’s secretary Olav Njolstad told AFP.
“It’s an excellent purpose. We can only congratulate him on the result and hope that the aid comes to those who need it the most”, he wrote in an email.
Over the past 120 years, the Nobel Prize has been awarded to 975 individuals and organisations, honouring achievements in the fields of peace, literature, medicine, physics, chemistry and, since 1969, economics.
Swedish scientist and philanthropist Alfred Nobel created the prizes in his 1895 will for those who “have conferred the greatest benefit to humankind”.
Due to reversals of fortune and the sharing of inheritances, some of the medals have ended up at auction over the years.
The cheapest Nobel ever sold at auction is probably that of France’s Aristide Briand, honoured in 1926 for his role in France and Germany’s shortlived post-war reconciliation.
His prize went for a steal in 2008 at just 12,200 euros ($12,870) to a folk museum in France. It was then actually stolen by unidentified thieves seven years later.
That of Britain’s William Randal Cremer, who won in 1903, did only slightly better, going under the hammer for $17,000 in 1985.