On Monday night, the Nobel Peace Prize, which was auctioned off by Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov to raise cash for Ukrainian refugee children, sold for $103.5 million, smashing the previous record for a Nobel Prize.
The buyer’s name could not be confirmed, but the winning offer was made through proxy, according to a spokeswoman for Heritage Auctions, which conducted the auction. The transaction price of $103.5 million converts to CHF100 million, indicating that the buyer is international.
“I anticipated a lot of solidarity, but I didn’t expect it to be this much,” Muratov said in an interview after bidding in the almost three-week auction, which finished on World Refugee Day.
Previously, the highest price paid for a Nobel Prize medal was $4.76 million in 2014, when James Watson, who shared the Nobel Prize in 1962 for discovering the structure of DNA, sold his. Three years later, the family of his co-beneficiary, Francis Crick, got $2.27 million in a Heritage Auctions bid as well.
Muratov, who got the gold prize in October 2021, was the editor-in-chief of the independent Russian daily Novaya Gazeta when was collapsed in March as the Kremlin cracked down on journalists and public opposition in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Muratov came up with the notion of auctioning off his award after announcing that he would give the accompanying $500,000 cash reward to charity.
Muratov has said that the funds would go straight to UNICEF to assist children affected by the Ukrainian conflict. UNICEF informed the auction company that the cash had been received minutes after the bidding concluded.
The internet promotions started on June 1 to coincide with International Children’s Day. Many offers were made over the phone or online. The winning offer, which was placed over the phone, rocketed the price from the low millions to stratospheric amounts.
Earlier in the day, the highest offer was just $550,000. The acquisition price was projected to rise, but not over $100 million.
“It’s impossible for me to believe. I’m astounded. Personally, I am perplexed. I’m taken aback. I’m not sure what occurred there “said Joshua Benesh, Heritage Auctions’ director of strategy.
“We knew there had been a significant wave of interest in the previous few days from individuals who were inspired by Dimitry’s tale, by Dimitry’s act of compassion,” he added.
Even individuals who do not participate in the auction, according to Muratov and Heritage authorities, may contribute by giving directly to UNICEF.
Last year, Muratov shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Filipino writer Maria Ressa.
The two journalists, who each earned their own medal, were recognised for their efforts to protect free expression in their respective nations, despite government pressure and even death threats.
The Muratov medal’s 175 grammes of 23-karat gold are worth roughly $10,000 if melted down.
Muratov has been harshly critical of Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, as well as the February conflict that has driven almost 5 million Ukrainians to migrate to neighbouring countries in search of safety, resulting in Europe’s worst humanitarian catastrophe since World War II.
Independent journalists in Russia have been under investigation, if not outright targeted, by the Kremlin. Nearly two dozen journalists have been assassinated since Putin took power more than two decades ago, including at least four who worked for Muratov’s daily.
Muratov claimed in April that he was assaulted with red paint while riding on a Russian train.
Since its creation in 1901, the Nobel Prize has been awarded to over 1,000 people for breakthroughs in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature, or the development of peace.