Nobel Peace Prize medal sold for a record $103.5 million to benefit Ukrainian refugee children


The Nobel Peace Prize, which Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov auctioned off to raise money for Ukrainian refugee children, sold for $103.5 million Monday night, breaking the previous record for a Nobel Prize.

Previously, 2014 was the most paid for a Nobel Prize medal when James Watson, whose co-discovery of the structure of DNA earned him a Nobel Prize in 1962, sold his medal for $4.76 million.

Three years later, the family of his fellow recipient, Francis Crick, received $2.27 million in bids from Heritage Auctions, the same company that auctioned Muratov’s medal on Monday, World Refugee Day.

Muratov who was awarded the gold medal in October 2021helped found the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta and was the publication’s editor-in-chief when it shut down in March amid the Kremlin’s crackdown on journalists and public dissent Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

It was Muratov’s idea to auction his prize, having already announced that he would donate the accompanying $500,000 prize to charity. The idea of ​​the donation is “to give the refugee children a chance for a future”.

Muratov said the proceeds will go directly to UNICEF to help children displaced by the war in Ukraine.

Melted down, the 175 grams of 23-karat gold in Muratov’s medal would be worth around $10,000.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Muratov said he was particularly concerned about this children orphaned by the conflict in Ukraine.

“We want to give them their future back,” he said.

He added that the important international sanctions against Russia are not preventing humanitarian aid, such as drugs for rare diseases and bone marrow transplants, from reaching those in need.

“It has to be the start of a flash mob to follow so people will auction off their prized possessions to help Ukrainians,” Muratov said in a video released by Heritage Auctions, which handles the sale but does not take a share of the proceeds .

Muratov shared the Nobel Peace Prize with a journalist last year Maria Resa of the Philippines.

The two journalists, each receiving their own medals, were honored for their struggles to uphold freedom of expression in their respective countries.

Muratov has criticized Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the war that began in February, which caused nearly 5 million Ukrainians to flee to other countries for security reasons, leading to the biggest humanitarian crisis in Europe since World War II.

Independent journalists in Russia have come under scrutiny from the Kremlin. Since Putin came to power more than two decades ago, nearly two dozen journalists have been killed, including at least four who worked for Muratov’s newspaper.

In April, Muratov said he was attacked on a red-painted Russian train.

Muratov left Russia for Western Europe on Thursday to begin his journey to New York City, where live bidding will begin Monday afternoon.

Online bidding began on June 1 to coincide with the celebration of International Children’s Day. Monday’s live bidding coincided with World Refugee Day. The purchase price was expected to increase, but perhaps not above $100 million.

“It’s a very bespoke deal,” said Joshua Benesh, Chief Strategy Officer of Heritage Auctions. “Not everyone in the world has a Nobel Prize to auction and not every day of the week that a Nobel Prize crosses the auction block.”

Since its inception in 1901, nearly 1,000 Nobel Prize winners have been recognized for achievements in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature and peacebuilding.

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