Los Angeles: An Olympic gold medal won by Jesse Owens at the 1936 Berlin Games has sold at auction for $1,466,574, the highest price ever paid for a piece of Olympic memorabilia.
SCP Auctions, based in Laguna Niguel, California, said the price for the medal in the auction that concluded on Sunday surpassed that of a silver cup won by the winner of the first modern-day Olympic marathon in 1896.
The cup sold for $865,000 in April 2012. The highest price paid for a US Olympic item -- the “Miracle on Ice” hockey jersey worn by team captain Mike Eruzione had sold for $657,250 in February of 2013.
The auction, including more than 1,000 sports memorabilia items, brought in a total of nearly $4.5 million. With Adolph Hitler using the Olympics as a backdrop for the notion of an Aryan master race, US legend Owens famously showed the power of a black athlete by capturing gold in the 100 and 200 meters, the long jump and the 4x100m relay.
The medal sold in the auction was not identifiable to a specific event, but was given to famed dance and movie star Bill “Bojangles” Robinson by Owens after Robinson helped Owens find work in the years after his epic Olympic victories.
The estate of Robinson’s late widow, Elaine Plaines-Robinson, put the medal up for auction.
The auction house said the buyer of the medal wished to remain anonymous at this time. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the medal will be donated to the Jesse Owens Foundation.
Other top lots included Jackie Robinson’s game-used bats from his historic 1949 National League Most Valuable Player season and the 1955 World Series that sold for $183,500 and $128,617, respectively; and a Jackie Robinson single-signed baseball attracted a record sum of $104,765.
A Muhammad Ali versus Jimmy Young fight-worn robe fetched $60,667 in the auction and a 1960s Wilt Chamberlain Los Angeles Lakers game-worn road jersey went for the same price. Ali wore the robe before defending his world title in the fight.
“We are honoured to have handled what we consider to be among the most inspiring sports artifacts ever offered at auction,” “The worldwide attention garnered by the auction of Jesse Owens 1936 Gold Medal and the extraordinary auction result proves that Owens’ triumphant legacy continues to endure,” said SCP Auction vice president Dan Imler.(Agencies)