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Russian Journalist’s Nobel Prize Medal Tops Numismatic Records

Dmitry Muratov's 2021 Nobel Peace Prize medal sold at auction for a record $103.5 million. Image courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

Dmitry Muratov's 2021 Nobel Peace Prize medal sold at auction for a record $103.5 million. Image courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

On June 20, Heritage Auctions sold the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize medal awarded to independent Russian journalist and Novaya Gazeta editor-in-chief, Dmitry Muratov, for $103.5 million. That is the highest price, by far, ever paid for a Nobel medal.

The medal sold to an anonymous buyer during a live auction held at the Times Center in Manhattan and broadcast around the world. Proceeds raised from the auction will support UNICEF’s humanitarian response to the war in Ukraine and affected regions. Heritage Auctions donated its efforts to bring worldwide attention to Muratov’s desire to aid those impacted by the war.

Muratov announced on March 22 that he intended to auction his medal with all proceeds going to support humanitarian relief efforts for Ukrainian child refugees and their families.

“When I first spoke with Dmitry about the prospect of bringing his Nobel medal to auction to benefit UNICEF, his goal was to shine a light on the suffering of refugees,” says Dustin Johnston, vice president. Johnston oversees the management of the Currency division including consignment acquisitions.

The medal opened live bidding at $787,500, then quickly reached $1 million; then, $2 million; then, $3 million. And each time bids reached a round number; the auditorium burst into applause. Bidders over the phone and on HA.com eventually drove the price past $16 million. Then, about 23 minutes after the auction began, a bidder on the phone with Johnston moved to the front of the line.

Johnston stood up and said, “I have a stated value bid of $103.5 million.”

Auctioneer Mike Sadler, in disbelief, asked Johnston to repeat the amount. He did. The audience went silent.

“That’s one way to do it,” Sadler said. At which point, the room erupted.

Within moments, the funds were remitted to UNICEF.

“UNICEF is honored, excited and deeply grateful to Dmitry Muratov for his extraordinary generosity – and we are astounded by the unprecedented response to the auction,” said UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell after the event. “This remarkable contribution will help Ukrainian children survive this brutal war and, someday, rebuild their lives. We hope Mr. Muratov’s gift inspires others to support vulnerable children in Ukraine and everywhere. We also want to thank the anonymous bidder, whose winning bid will do so much for so many.”

Those who wish to support UNICEF's efforts may donate directly at https://www.unicefusa.org/nobelpeaceprize.