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


A silver medal in capturing from the 1900 Olympics in Paris lately offered for a mere $1,283.

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

But it was a first-place silver medal from the first trendy Olympics in Athens in 1896 — there have been no gold medals then — that commanded six figures on the eve of this 12 months’s Games. It offered for $180,111, in line with RR Auction, the Boston-based public sale home that dealt with all three gross sales.

Even although 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 podium, the place collectors are scooping them up like uncommon cash, comedian books and different sports activities artifacts like baseball playing cards.

“It’s a niche collectible,” Bobby Livingston, an govt vice chairman of RR Auction, which brokered the sale of the three medals and 18 others on July 22, stated on Sunday. “The ones that have come to market in recent years, 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 over the years. Some have cited monetary hardships, whereas others have stated that they have been motivated by elevating cash for charity.

Bill 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 decided to sell most of my collection,” 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 even be made to a social justice initiative created by the Celtics.

While the names of Olympians aren’t engraved on medals, names matter, and so do the circumstances related to athletic feats, public sale specialists stated.

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

It was a good-looking sum, however a mere fraction of the practically $1.5 million {that a} collector paid in 2019 for considered one of the 4 gold medals that have been received by Jesse Owens at the 1936 Summer Games in Berlin. The sale value set a record for a piece of Olympic memorabilia, in line with SCP Auctions, the Laguna Niguel, Calif., public sale home that dealt with the sale.

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

In addition to the origin and possession historical past of collectibles like medals, generally known as provenance, their situation performs an essential function of their value, public sale specialists stated. Do they’ve their unique ribbon? Did they arrive with a case?

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

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

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

“If you’re winning, I think the value is probably irrelevant,” Mr. Newman stated. “I’d be surprised if anyone thought they were pure gold.”

The silver medals awarded at the Tokyo Games are made out of pure silver and weigh 550 grams, which works out to about $450, in line with Mr. Newman, who stated that bronze medals can be value considerably much less. They comprise crimson brass, which is 95 p.c copper and 5 p.c zinc.

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

Some collectors will gladly settle for bronze, Mr. Livingston stated.

“They’re still Olympic medals,” he stated. “Third place is still pretty darned good. As a collector, you can start with bronze if you don’t have a lot of money.”





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