The Nobel Peace Prize auctioned by Russian journalist Dmitri A. Muratov to help Ukrainian refugees was sold on Monday evening for $ 103.5 million to an anonymous buyer, erasing a Nobel medal record.
The proceeds from the auction will go to UNICEF to help Ukrainian children and their families displaced by the Russian invasion of their country.
Mr. Muratov is the chief editor of the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta, which suspended publication in March in response to the Kremlin’s increasingly draconian press laws. In an interview with the New York Times last month, he said he was inspired to auction off the award won last year by Danish physicist Niels Bohr, who sold his medal for helping civilians in Finland after the Soviet invasion of that country in 1939.
“We hope that this will serve as an example for other people as a flash mob, for other people to auction off their precious possessions, their memorabilia, to help refugees, Ukrainian refugees around the world,” Muratov said. in a speech of the stage before the start of the race.
The previous auction record for a Nobel medal dates back to 2014, when the James Watson prize, who participated in the discovery of the double helix structure of DNA, was sold for 4.1 million dollars (4.76 million dollars, including the commission that goes to the auction house).
Heritage Auctions, which handled the sale of Mr. Muratov’s medal, sold five former Nobel Prizes, including the one awarded to Watson’s co-discoverer Francis Crick. That medal sold for $ 2.27 million in 2013.
Josh Benesh, chief strategy officer of Heritage Auctions, who will not take a commission on the sale, said he was stunned by the final price. The offering had mostly moved forward in increments of $ 100,000 or $ 200,000 when it suddenly increased from $ 16.6 million to $ 103.5 million. Jolts filled the room when a Heritage Auctions employee on the phone relayed the figure.
“I don’t think the object mattered,” Benesh said of the 23-karat gold Nobel medal being auctioned. “I think the object is a metaphor, it is a symbol of something. It is the opportunity to stand up and say, ‘This is a cause that has meaning and it is a problem that a donation can begin to solve.’ “
Mr. Muratov is regarded as the dean of the Russian independent press, and Novaya Gazeta has been lauded since its founding in 1993 for its investigative journalism and campaigns for children with rare diseases and struggling families. His words at the auction resonated with some in the crowd.
Polina Buchak, a 24-year-old Ukrainian director and activist living in New York, said some members of her family are refugees. She hopes the auction will encourage the New York community and those around the world not to give in to their efforts to help Ukraine.
“We are hearing silence from everyone around us,” he said. “We have it. They are tired, but we are too. It is in the interest of a human being that this victory comes soon.”