Nobel Winner Sells Medal for Ukraine, Gets Huge Price

Journalist Dmitry Muratov's gold prize went for a staggering $103.5M; proceeds will go to UNICEF
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 21, 2022 6:20 AM CDT
Nobel Sold to Help Ukrainian Kids Brings In $103.5M
A worker holds Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov's 23-karat gold Nobel Peace Prize medal before it was auctioned Monday in New York.   (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)

(Newser) – Ukrainian children and their families who've been uprooted from their homes due to the Russian-led invasion are about to get a boost from a benevolent benefactor. Dmitry Muratov, editor-in-chief of Russia's independent Novaya Gazeta newspaper, announced earlier this year that he was selling the gold Nobel Peace Prize medal he won in 2021, with plans to donate the proceeds from the sale to Ukrainian refugees. On Monday, an anonymous buyer agreed to fork over $103.5 million for the medal, with Muratov noting that the money will go to the United Nations' humanitarian UNICEF agency to help the Ukrainians, reports the New York Times.

The auction price smashed the record held for selling a Nobel medal, which came in 2014 when someone ponied up nearly $5 million for James Watson's medal, co-won in 1962 for discovering DNA's double-helix structure. "We hope that this will serve as an example for other people like a flash mob, for other people to auction their valuable possessions, their heirlooms, to help ... Ukrainian refugees around the world," Muratov said before bidding got underway. Even Heritage Auctions purveyors were thrown by the final selling price of the Muratov medal, which the Times notes elicited gasps when it was announced. The paper reports that bidding had been "cruising along in increments of $100,000 or $200,000 when it suddenly spiked from $16.6 million to $103.5 million."

Muratov won the peace prize last year for defending freedom of expression in Russia, although the Novaya Gazeta paper he founded in 1993 was forced to suspend publication at the end of March, reports the BBC. Earlier this month, the journalist told the Times he'd been inspired to sell his medal by physicist Niels Bohr of Denmark, who sold his own medal in 1940 to help Finland after it was invaded by the Soviet Union. "The most important message today is for people to understand that there's a war going on and we need to help people who are suffering the most," he said in a video shown by Heritage Auctions, per the Times. (Read more Ukrainian refugees stories.)

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