On Monday night, Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov auctioned off his Nobel Peace Prize for a record-breaking $103.5 million to raise money for Ukrainian child refugees.
The buyer, who remains unidentified, is believed to be from overseas as the $103.5 million sale translates to $100 million Swiss francs. According to a spokesperson for Heritage Auctions, which handled the sale at the Times Center in New York, the winning bid was made by proxy.
“I was hoping that there was going to be an enormous amount of solidarity, but I was not expecting this to be such a huge amount,” Muratov said in an interview.
The bidding began online on June 1 to coincide with International Children’s Day and concluded nearly three weeks later, on Monday, in time for World Refugee Day.
Muratov, who was awarded the gold medal in October 2021, is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta. The publication was shut down in March of this year due to Russia’s crackdown on journalists and public dissent in light of the country’s invasion of Ukraine in February.
According to the Associated Press, after previously announcing that he was going to donate $500,000 to charity, Muratov also decided to auction off the prestigious prize.
The proceeds immediately went to UNICEF to help Ukrainian children displaced by the ongoing war.
The bid of over $100 million made on Monday night surprised those in attendance since the highest bid from earlier in the day was only $550,000.
“I can’t believe it. I’m awestruck. Personally, I’m flabbergasted. I’m stunned. I don’t really know what happened in there,” Joshua Benesh, the chief strategy officer for Heritage Auctions, said.
“We knew that there was a tremendous groundswell of interest in the last couple of days by people who were moved by Dimitry’s story, by Dimitry’s act of generosity, that the global audience was listening tonight,” he said.
Although the bidding has closed, Muratov and Heritage officials said that people can still donate directly to UNICEF.
Monday’s sale beats out the previous record of $4.76 million in 2014, after James Watson, who helped discover the structure of DNA, sold his after receiving it in 1962 with co-recipient Francis Crick. In 2013, Crick’s family received $2.27 million through an auction also led by Heritage Auctions.
Since its inception in 1901, the Nobel Prize has been awarded to nearly 1,000 recipients for their achievements in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature and the advancement of peace.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Michael M. Santiago/Staff
Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer and content creator. He is a contributing writer for Christian Headlines and the host of the For Your Soul Podcast, a podcast devoted to sound doctrine and biblical truth. He holds a Masters of Divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary.