Russia’s Dmitry Muratov auctions off his Nobel medal for $103 million

The medal of the late Nobel Peace Prize laureate Dmitry Muratov was sold at auction in New York on Monday and raised a record $103.5 million (98.3 million euros), all of which will go to Unicef to help Ukrainian children.

The bidding, which was conducted by Heritage Auction House, lasted 20 minutes, during which the price of the medal rose from $787,000 to $15 million, when suddenly an anonymous buyer telephoned that he was paying $103.5 million, ending the sale. Although other medals won by Nobel laureates have been sold or auctioned in the past, none ever fetched even a tenth of that amount, and in fact the most expensive medal had come in at $4.76 million in 2014. Heritage House waived the customary auction fees, so the entire amount will go to Unicef.

Muratov, founder and editor of the last Russian dissident newspaper Novaya Gazeta -currently closed by Putin’s order- was invited by Heritage to the bidding in an event where he was practically cheered like a rock star, with continuous “waw” from the audience, but he -who expressed himself all the time in Russian- said that for him “it was not about any party”, but he wanted to talk “about human solidarity and difficulties”.

He recalled that of the 16 million Ukrainian refugees, 40% are children, or that two thirds of Ukrainian children have had to leave their homes, something he said had never happened in a conflict in such a short time. He gave as an example a Ukrainian child he met in Russia who asked him for money “to be able to recharge the phone with which to call his mom in Ukraine,” and asked the audience to put themselves in his shoes for a moment. “They have killed his past and now they want to destroy his future.”


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