Russian journalist's Nobel Peace Prize fetches record $103.5 million at auction to help Ukrainian kids
Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov auctioned off his Nobel Peace Prize to help Ukrainian children and families displaced by Russia's invasion, and an anonymous buyer won the bidding Monday night with an unexpectedly generous $103.5 million. UNICEF said it received the funds minutes after the bidding ended. The previous record for a Nobel was $4.76 million, earned by James Watson in 2014 when he sold his Nobel for co-discovering the structure of DNA in 1962, The Associated Press reports.
"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 told AP. The bidding started on June 1, International Children's Day, and was at $550,000 early Monday, World Refugee Day. Melted down, the gold in the Nobel Prize is worth about $10,000, AP reports.
A founder of the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta, Muratov has sharply criticized Russia's invasions of Ukraine. He was editor-in-chief when Novaya Gazeta shut down in March amid threats from the Kremlin and new laws criminalizing critical coverage of Russia's Ukraine war. At least four Novaya Gazeta journalists have been killed under Russian President Vladimir Putin's tenure, and Muratov was attacked with red paint in April.
"Personally, I'm flabbergasted. I'm stunned. I don't really know what happened in there," said Joshua Benesh, chief strategy officer for Heritage Auctions, which managed the bidding. "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."