On Thursday, James Watson’s DNA Nobel prize that he had been awarded in 1962 sold for a whopping $4.1 million at a NY auction house.
Christie’s representatives in Manhattan say that the gold medal sold for more than the action house had been expected. Auctioneers had estimated it would sell for $2.5 million to $3.5 million, but they were amazed – Watson’s medal is the most expensive Nobel Prize medal ever sold in an auction house.
The buyer who remained anonymous will now pay a total sum of $4.76 million (including Christie’s fee).
Dr Watson was also present during the auction with his wife and one of his sons. Before the auction he said he planed to give much of the money to charity. He wanted to support some of the institutions that nurtured him in an attempt of supporting and empowering scientific discovery.
“I’m very pleased. It’s more money than I expected to give to charity,”
Dr Watson said after the auction.
The starting prize was $1.5 million. Several people bid $100.000, but in the last moments to phone bidders pushed the sum above $4 million.
Some say that Dr Watson wanted to redeem himself in the scientific community for some racist remarks he had made seven years ago to a British newspaper. Back then he told The Sunday Times that all social policies were based on the fact that the intelligence of African people was equal to West European intelligence, which was wrong because all DNA tests showed the opposite. Since he said these he became a non-person for all scientific community.
He apologized several times ever since.
“To those who have drawn the inference from my words that Africa, as a continent, is somehow genetically inferior, I can only apologize unreservedly. That is not what I meant. More importantly from my point of view, there is no scientific basis for such a belief,”
he said seven years ago.
Christie’s also sold Dr James Watson’s notes for his Nobel Prize public speech for $365.000 and his manuscript for the first lecture he gave after he had received the DNA Nobel Prize for $245.000. Both items went to an anonymous buyer, but not the same buyer who took the Nobel medal.
Dr Watson and two other colleagues, Dr Crick and Maurice Wilkins, discovered the DNA double-helix structure in his mid twenties. The professor excitedly said back then that DNA was “the Rosetta Stone for unraveling the true secret of life.”