What is the price of the world? Part of the answer to this question will be available on Monday evening, when Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov will auction his Nobel Peace Prize medal. Proceeds will go directly to UNICEF in its efforts to help war-displaced children in Ukraine.
Muratov, who was awarded a gold medal in October 2021, helped found the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta and was the publication’s editor-in-chief when it closed in March amid Kremlin crackdowns on journalists and public dissent following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. .
It was Muratov’s idea to auction off his prize, as he had already announced that he would donate the accompanying $500,000 cash prize to charity. According to him, the idea behind the donation “is to give refugee children a chance for a future.” In an interview with The Associated Press, Muratov said he was particularly concerned about children orphaned by the conflict in Ukraine.
“We want to give them back a future,” he said.
He added that it is important that international sanctions imposed on Russia do not prevent humanitarian aid, such as drugs for rare diseases and bone marrow transplants, from reaching those in need.
“This should be the start of a flash mob as a role model for people to sell their valuables to help Ukrainians,” Muratov said in a video posted by Heritage Auctions, which sells but does not receive any share of the proceeds. .
Muratov shared the Nobel Peace Prize last year with a journalist Maria Ressa Philippines.
The two journalists, who each received their own medals, were honored for fighting to preserve freedom of speech in their respective countries despite facing harassment and even death threats from their respective governments.
Muratov has been highly critical of Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and the war that began in February, which has seen nearly 5 million Ukrainians flee to other countries in search of safety, sparking Europe’s biggest humanitarian crisis since World War II.
Independent journalists in Russia have come under close scrutiny from the Kremlin, if not directly targeted by the government. Since Putin came to power more than two decades ago, nearly two dozen journalists have been killed, including at least four who worked for Muratov’s newspaper.
In April, Muratov claimed he was splashed with red paint while riding on a Russian train.
Muratov flew from Russia to Western Europe on Thursday to begin his trip to New York, where live trading will begin on Monday afternoon.
Online trading began on June 1st to coincide with International Children’s Day. Direct trading on Monday is timed to coincide with World Refugee Day.
As of early Monday morning, the maximum bid was $550,000. The purchase price is expected to spiral up, possibly into the millions.
“This is a very personal deal,” said Joshua Benes, director of strategy at Heritage Auctions. “Not everyone in the world has a Nobel Prize to auction, and it’s not every day of the week that a Nobel Prize crosses the auction block.” Since its founding in 1901, there have been about 1,000 Nobel Prize winners for achievements in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature, and the promotion of peace.
The biggest payout for a Nobel Prize medal was in 2014, when James Watson, whose co-discovery of the structure of DNA won him the Nobel Prize in 1962, sold his medal for US$4.76 million. Three years later, the family of his co-recipient, Francis Crick, received $2.27 million in an auction organized by Heritage Auctions, the same company that auctioned Muratov’s medal.
Melted down, the 175 grams of 23 carat gold contained in Muratov’s medal will cost about $10,000.
The ongoing war and international humanitarian efforts to alleviate the suffering of those affected in Ukraine are sure to spark interest, Beneš said, adding that it’s hard to predict how much someone is willing to pay for a medal.
“I think there will definitely be some excitement on Monday,” Beneš said. “This is such a unique item being sold under unique circumstances… a significant act of generosity and such a significant humanitarian crisis.” Muratov and Heritage officials said even those not bidding can still help by donating directly to UNICEF.