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Nobel sold for Ukrainian kids shatters record at $103.5M

FILE — Bidder Ole Bjorn Fausa, of Norway, holds the 1936 Nobel Peace Prize medal in Baltimore, March 27, 2014, the second Nobel Peace Prize ever to come to auction. The Nobel Peace Prize, won last October by Russian journalist Dmitri A. Muratov, will be offered at auction, Monday, June 20, 2022, with proceeds going to help children displaced by the war in Ukraine. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

NEW YORK — The Nobel Peace Prize that Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov was auctioning off to raise money for Ukrainian child refugees sold Monday night for $103.5 million, shattering the old record for a Nobel.

A spokesperson for Heritage Auctions, which handled the sale, could not confirm the identity of the buyer but said the winning bid was made by proxy. The $103.5 million sale translates to $100 million Swiss francs, hinting that the buyer is from overseas.

The live auction happened on World Refugee Day. Previously, the most ever paid for a Nobel Prize medal was $4.76 million in 2014, when James Watson, whose co-discovery of the structure of DNA earned him a Nobel Prize in 1962, sold his.

Three years later, the family of his co-recipient, Francis Crick, received $2.27 million in bidding also run by Heritage Auctions.

Muratov, who was awarded the gold medal in October 2021, helped found the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta and was the publication’s editor-in-chief when it shut down in March amid the Kremlin’s clampdown on journalists and public dissent in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

It was Muratov’s idea to auction off his prize, having already announced he was donating the accompanying $500,000 cash award to charity. The idea of the donation, he said, “is to give the children refugees a chance for a future.”

Muratov has said the proceeds will go directly to UNICEF in its efforts to help children displaced by the war in Ukraine.

Melted down, the 175 grams of 23-karat gold contained in Muratov’s medal would be worth about $10,000.

In an interview with The Associated Press before the auction, Muratov said he was particularly concerned about children who have been orphaned because of the conflict in Ukraine.

“We want to return their future,” he said.

He added that it’s important international sanctions levied against Russia do not prevent humanitarian aid, such as medicine for rare diseases and bone marrow transplants, from reaching those in need.

“It has to become a beginning of a flash mob as an example to follow so people auction their valuable possessions to help Ukrainians,” Muratov said in a video released by Heritage Auctions, which handled the sale but is not taking any share of the proceeds.

Muratov shared the Nobel Peace Prize last year with journalist Maria Ressa of the Philippines.

The two journalists, who each received their own medals, were honored for their battles to preserve free speech in their respective countries, despite coming under attack by harassment, their governments and even death threats.

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