The Nobel Peace Prize, which Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov was auctioning off to generate funds for Ukrainian child refugees, sold for $103.5 million (£84.5 million), smashing the previous record for a Nobel prize.
“I was expecting for an outpouring of solidarity,” Muratov remarked after the sale. “However, I was not anticipating such a large sum.”
The previous record for the highest price paid for a Nobel prize medal was $4.76 million in 2014, when James Watson, who won the Nobel Prize for co-discovering the structure of DNA in 1962, sold his medal. Three years later, Heritage Auctions, the same business that auctioned off Muratov’s medal on Monday, World Refugee Day, collected $2.27 million for the family of his co-recipient, Francis Crick.
Muratov, who received the gold medal in October 2021, was the editor-in-chief of the independent Russian daily Novaya Gazeta when it was down in March during the Kremlin’s crackdown on journalists and public opposition following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Muratov came up with the notion of auctioning off his reward after announcing that he would donate the $500,000 cash prize to charity. “To offer the children refugees a chance for a future,” he stated of the contribution.
Muratov has stated that the funds would go straight to Unicef to benefit children affected by the Ukraine conflict. The 175 grams of 23-karat gold in Muratov’s medal, melted down, would be worth around $10,000.
The medal was sold over the phone to an anonymous bidder. The New York City auction was lively, with much of clapping and bidders encouraging one another to raise the total. Muratov was observed filming the bidding screen as well as those in the room.
Many in the room, including Muratov, were taken aback when the final price came in, which was tens of millions of dollars higher than the prior offer. “I’m just like you in that aspect,” he stated after the transaction, speaking via a translator.
“It’s crucial to us that that organization does not belong to any government,” Muratov said when asked why he picked Unicef as the receiver of the funding. It has the ability to function independently of the government. There aren’t any limits to it.”
Muratov expressed his worry for children who have been orphaned as a result of the turmoil in Ukraine in an interview with the Associated Press before to the auction. He stated, “We want to return their future.”
He went on to say that it was critical that the international sanctions imposed on Russia did not hinder humanitarian supplies, like as medication for rare diseases and bone marrow transplants, from reaching people who needed it.
In a video posted by Heritage Auctions, Muratov stated, “It needs to become the beginning of a flashmob as an example to follow so that people sell their priceless items to assist Ukrainians.”
Last year, Muratov and Filipino writer Maria Ressa received the Nobel Peace Prize. The two journalists, who got separate awards, were recognized for their efforts to protect free expression in their respective nations, despite persecution, political pressure, and even death threats.
Muratov has been a harsh opponent of Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and the subsequent war, which has resulted in roughly 5 million Ukrainians fleeing to neighboring countries for safety, creating Europe’s worst humanitarian catastrophe since World War II.
Independent Russian journalists have been scrutinized by the Kremlin, if not explicitly targeted by the government. 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 said he was assaulted with red paint on a Russian train in April.
Muratov departed Russia on Thursday for Western Europe, where he will begin his journey to New York City, where live bidding will begin on Monday afternoon. Bidding for the prize began on June 1st, in honor of International Children’s Day.
The highest price was $550,000 as of early Monday. The acquisition price was projected to rise, but not over $100 million.
After the sale, Heritage Auctions’ chief strategy officer, Joshua Benesh, stated, “I can’t believe it, I’m flabbergasted.” “Personally, I’m astounded… I have no idea what occurred in there.
“We knew there had been a big wave of interest in the previous couple of days by individuals who were inspired by Dimitry’s narrative, by Dimitry’s act of charity, and that the worldwide audience was listening tonight,” said the team.
Nearly 1,000 Nobel laureates have been honored for breakthroughs in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature, or the development of peace since the prize’s foundation in 1901.