Nobel auctioned to benefit Ukrainian children fetches record $103.5 million

NEW YORK — Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov has raised $103.5 million for child refugees from Ukraine by auctioning off the Nobel Peace Prize medal he won in late 2021.

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According to Heritage Auctions, all proceeds from Monday’s auction in New York, which coincided with World Refugee Day, will benefit UNICEF’s humanitarian response for Ukraine’s displaced children, Reuters reported.

“Mr. Muratov, with the full support of his staff at Novaya Gazeta, is allowing us to auction his medal not as a collectible but as an event that he hopes will positively impact the lives of millions of Ukrainian refugees,” the auction house said in a statement prior to the sale, the news outlet reported.

Muratov led Novaya Gazeta, one of the last major independent media outlets “critical of Vladimir Putin’s government after others either closed or had their websites blocked after the invasion of Ukraine,” The Guardian reported.

Muratov was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize medal in October and later announced he would donate the $500,000 prize money to charity “to give the children refugees a chance for a future,” the British news outlet reported.

In March, however, he suspended his newspaper’s operations in Russia after warnings from the state over its coverage of the war in Ukraine, Reuters reported.

According to Forbes, the previous auction record for a Nobel Peace Prize medal was the nearly $4.8 million fetched in 2014 by the 1962 medal awarded to American molecular biologist James Watson, who helped discover DNA.

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The Norwegian Nobel Institute that awards the peace prizes endorsed the sale of Muratov’s 23-karat gold medal for charity, a gesture Director Olav Njølstad called a “generous act of humanitarianism,” the news outlet reported.

According to Reuters, journalist Maria Ressa, who works in the Philippines, was jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize alongside Muratov for what the Nobel Prize committee called “their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace.”

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