The Nobel Peace Prize that Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov auctioned off to raise money for Ukrainian refugee children has sold for $103.5m (£84.5m), beating the former record for a Nobel.
Previously, the highest paid medal for a Nobel Prize medal was in 2014, when James Watson, whose co-discovery of the structure of DNA won him a Nobel Prize in 1962, sold his medal for 4.76 million (£3.9 million).
Mr Muratov, who received the gold medal in October 2021, helped found the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta and was the publication’s editor when it closed in March amid the Kremlin’s crackdown on journalists and public dissent following the invasion of Ukraine.
It was Mr Muratov’s idea to auction off his prize, having previously announced he was donating the $500,000 (£407,906) cash prize to charity. The idea of the donation, he said, “is to give refugee children a chance for a future”.
Muratov said proceeds from the auction which ended on Monday evening will go directly to UNICEF in its efforts to help children displaced by war in Ukraine.
Melted down, the 175 grams of 23-carat gold contained in the medal would be worth around $10,000 (£8,156).
In an interview with The Associated Press ahead of the auction, Muratov said he was particularly concerned about children orphaned by the conflict in Ukraine.
“We want to give back their future,” he said.
He added that it was important that international sanctions against Russia did not prevent humanitarian aid, such as drugs for rare diseases and bone marrow transplants, from reaching those in need.
“This must become the start of a flash mob as an example for people to auction off their valuables to help Ukrainians,” Muratov said in a video posted by Heritage Auctions, which handled the sale. but takes no part in the process.
Mr Muratov shared the Nobel Peace Prize last year with journalist Maria Ressa from the Philippines.
The two journalists, who each received their own medal, were honored for their fights to preserve freedom of expression in their respective countries, despite facing harassment, persecution by their governments and death threats.
Muratov strongly criticized Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the war started in February that caused nearly five million Ukrainians to flee to other countries for their safety, creating the biggest humanitarian crisis in Europe since World War II.
Freelance journalists in Russia are closely watched by the Kremlin, if not outright targeted by the government. Since Mr Putin came to power more than two decades ago, nearly two dozen journalists have been killed, including at least four who worked for Mr Muratov’s newspaper.
In April, Mr Muratov said he was attacked with red paint while on board a Russian train.
Mr Muratov left Russia for Western Europe on Thursday to begin his journey in New York, where the auction took place.
The online auctions started on June 1 to coincide with the celebration of International Children’s Day.