The Nobel Peace Prize medal auctioned off by Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov to help displaced Ukrainian children sold for $103.5 million on Monday night, breaking a record.
The proceeds will go to UNICEF’s child refugee fund, Heritage Auctions said in an announcement, after Muratov sold the prize to help children forced out of their homes in Ukraine.
The previous record for a Nobel Prize medal was set at $4.76 million in 2014, when James Watson auctioned his 1962 award for co-discovering the double helix structure of DNA.
Muratov, editor of the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta who has criticized the Kremlin’s war on Ukraine, said the auction results exceeded his expectations.
“The most important message today is for people to understand that there is a war going on and we need to help people who are suffering the most,” he said.
The 60-year-old was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2021 alongside Filipino journalist Maria Ressa for their work in promoting independent reporting in the face of growing authoritarianism.
“Russia Is Bombing Ukraine” ran in big letters on the front page of Novaya Gazeta’s first issue after Moscow launched its invasion on Feb. 24, with articles printed side by side in Russian and Ukrainian.
A little over a month later, the newspaper announced it would suspend operations until the end of the conflict after receiving another warning from Russia’s communications regulator as a crackdown on media and criticism of the war grew harsher.
In April, after Muratov was doused with red paint and acetone on a train in Russia, the U.S. government said it concluded that Russian intelligence was behind the attack.
His newspaper’s staff has endured assassinations and threats since the paper’s founding in 1993, although this is the first time it has suspended publication.
Muratov, who has called for an antiwar movement, said he hoped the bid on his Nobel Prize medal at an auction in New York would encourage others to donate. The event, organized by Heritage Auctions, coincided with World Refugee Day.
“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,” he said Monday after the bidding closed, according to the Associated Press.
“It has to become the beginning of a flash mob or as an example to follow, so people auction their valuable possessions to help Ukrainian refugees,” he said earlier in a video.
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