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Priceless? Even Olympic Medals Can Be Had for the Right Price


A silver medal in taking pictures from the 1900 Olympics in Paris lately bought for a mere $1,283.

Then there was a bronze medal from the 1956 Winter Video games in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, that fetched $3,750.

However it was a first-place silver medal from the primary trendy Olympics in Athens in 1896 — there have been no gold medals then — that commanded six figures on the eve of this yr’s Video games. It bought for $180,111, in keeping with RR Public sale, the Boston-based public sale home that dealt with all three gross sales.

Despite the fact that their sentimental worth could also be priceless to the athletes who put on them round their necks, Olympic medals are discovering their strategy to pawn shops and public sale blocks from the rostrum, the place collectors are scooping them up like uncommon cash, comedian books and different sports activities artifacts like baseball playing cards.

“It’s a distinct segment collectible,” Bobby Livingston, an govt vp of RR Public sale, which brokered the sale of the three medals and 18 others on July 22, stated on Sunday. “Those which have come to market lately, there isn’t a glut of them.”

One doesn’t need to be Caeleb Dressel, the American swimmer who won five gold medals in Tokyo, to gather medals.

Dozens of former Olympians have resorted to promoting their medals through the years. Some have cited monetary hardships, whereas others have stated that they have been motivated by elevating cash for charity.

Invoice Russell, the Boston Celtics legend, will put his gold medal from the 1956 Olympics, when he served as captain of the U.S. basketball workforce, on the public sale block this fall.

“I’ve determined to promote most of my assortment,” Mr. Russell stated in a video on the web site of Hunt Auctions, the Exton, Pa., public sale home that may deal with the sale of his medal, a few of his N.B.A. championship rings, a warm-up jacket and different memorabilia.

Mr. Russell says that a few of the proceeds will go to MENTOR, a charity that he co-founded that promotes youth mentorship alternatives. A donation may also be made to a social justice initiative created by the Celtics.

Whereas the names of Olympians usually are not engraved on medals, names matter, and so do the circumstances related to athletic feats, public sale specialists stated.

A gold medal gained by an unidentified member of the 1984 U.S. basketball workforce, a roster that included Patrick Ewing and Chris Mullin, bought for $83,188 on July 22, RR Auction said.

It was a good-looking sum, however a mere fraction of the almost $1.5 million {that a} collector paid in 2019 for one of many 4 gold medals that have been gained by Jesse Owens on the 1936 Summer time Video games in Berlin. The sale worth set a record for a piece of Olympic memorabilia, in keeping with SCP Auctions, the Laguna Niguel, Calif., public sale home that dealt with the sale.

Owens, the Black American monitor and subject athlete, delivered a dominant efficiency at these video games as Hitler watched.

Along with the origin and possession historical past of collectibles like medals, referred to as provenance, their situation performs an essential function of their worth, public sale specialists stated. Have they got their authentic ribbon? Did they arrive with a case?

Not all Olympic medals are engraved with the identify of the game for which they have been awarded, which auctioneers say can cut back their worth whether it is unclear.

In Tokyo, the gold medals gained by the athletes overwhelmingly comprise extra silver than precise gold, which makes up about 6 grams of the overall weight of 556 grams, in keeping with the International Olympic Committee.

That works out to be about $800 in gold and silver in these medals, Philip Newman, a founding associate and managing director of Metals Focus, a London-based analysis agency, stated on Sunday.

“In case you’re successful, I feel the worth might be irrelevant,” Mr. Newman stated. “I’d be stunned if anybody thought they have been pure gold.”

The silver medals awarded on the Tokyo Video games are constituted of pure silver and weigh 550 grams, which works out to about $450, in keeping with Mr. Newman, who stated that bronze medals could be value considerably much less. They comprise pink brass, which is 95 % copper and 5 % zinc.

Every medal comes with a wooden case and options the 5 Olympic rings, the official identify of the video games and Nike, the Greek goddess of victory, on them, a requirement of the I.O.C.

Some collectors will gladly accept bronze, Mr. Livingston stated.

“They’re nonetheless Olympic medals,” he stated. “Third place continues to be fairly darned good. As a collector, you can begin with bronze for those who don’t have some huge cash.”



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