Nobel sold for Ukrainian children breaks record at $103.5 million

The Nobel Peace Prize auctioned by Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov to raise funds for Ukrainian refugee children sold for $103.5 million on Monday night, breaking the old record for a Nobel.

A spokesman for Heritage Auctions, which handled the sale, could not confirm the identity of the buyer, but said the winning bid was made by proxy. The $103.5 million sale translates to CHF100 million, suggesting the buyer is foreign.

“I expected there would be a huge amount of solidarity, but I didn’t expect it to be such a large amount,” Muratov said in an interview after bidding in the nearly three-week auction that ended on World Refugee Day.

Previously, the most paid for a Nobel Prize medal was $4.76 million in 2014, when James Watson, whose co-discovery of the structure of DNA earned him the Nobel Prize in 1962, sold his. Three years later, the family of his co-beneficiary, Francis Crick, received $2.27 million in a bid also held by Heritage Auctions.

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

It was Muratov’s idea to auction off his prize, as he had announced that he would donate the accompanying $500,000 cash prize to charity.

Muratov has said that the proceeds will go directly to UNICEF in its efforts to help children displaced by the war in Ukraine. Minutes after the bidding ended, UNICEF told the auction house that it had already received the funds.

The online offers began on June 1 to coincide with the celebration of International Children’s Day. Many offers came by phone or online. The winning bid, submitted by phone, catapulted the bid from low millions to astronomical levels.

Muratov had left Russia on Thursday to begin his trip to New York City, where live auctions began Monday night.

Earlier Monday, the highest bid was just $550,000. The purchase price was expected to spiral up, but not more than $100 million.

“I can not believe it. I am amazed. Personally, I am dumbfounded. I am stunned. I really don’t know what happened there,” said Joshua Benesh, director of strategy at Heritage Auctions.

“We knew there was a huge groundswell of interest in the last few days from people who were moved by Dimitry’s story, by Dimitry’s act of generosity, that the global audience was hearing tonight,” he said.

Muratov and Heritage officials said even those not participating in the bidding can help by donating directly to UNICEF.

Muratov shared the Nobel Peace Prize last year with journalist Maria Ressa from the Philippines.

The two journalists, who each received their own medals, were honored for their battles to preserve freedom of expression in their respective countries, despite being subjected to harassment from their governments and even death threats.

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

Muratov has been highly critical of Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the war that started in February that caused almost 5 million Ukrainians to flee to other countries in search of safety, creating the largest humanitarian crisis in Europe since World War II. World.

Independent journalists in Russia have been subject to scrutiny by the Kremlin, if not direct targets of the government. Since Putin came to power more than two decades ago, nearly two dozen journalists have been killed, including at least four who had worked for Muratov’s newspaper.

In April, Muratov said he was attacked with red paint while riding a Russian train.

Since its inception in 1901, there have been nearly 1,000 Nobel Prize winners honoring achievements in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature, and the advancement of peace.

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