A silver medal in shooting from the 1900 Olympics in Paris recently sold for just $1,283.
Then there was the bronze medalist at the 1956 Winter Games in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, which fetched $3,750.
But it was a first-place silver medal from the first modern Olympics in Athens in 1896 – then no gold medal – that commanded six points on the eve of this year’s Games. It sold for $180,111, according to Boston-based auction house RR Auctions, which handled all three sales.
Even though their sentimental value may be invaluable to the athletes who wear them around their necks, olympic medals looking for your way mortgage shops And from the podium to the auction block, where collectors are scooping them up like rare coins, comic books, and other sports artifacts like baseball cards.
“This is an exclusive collectible,” said Bobby Livingston, executive vice president of RR Auctions, which drove the sale of three medals and 18 others on July 22. “
Dozens of former Olympians have resorted to selling their medals over the years. Some have cited financial difficulties, while others have said they were motivated by raising money for charity.
Boston Celtics legend, Bill Russell, will keep his gold medal from the 1956 Olympics, when he captained the U.S. basketball team, on the auction block this fall.
“I have decided to sell most of my collection,” said Mr. Russell. Video on the website of hunting auction, Exton, Pa., auction house that will handle sales of his medals, some of his NBA championship rings, a warm-up jacket, and other memorabilia.
Mr. Russell says some of the proceeds will go to Teacher, a charity he co-founded that promotes youth counseling opportunities. A donation will also be made to a social justice initiative created by the Celtics.
Auction experts said though Olympians’ names do not appear on medals, names matter and so do the circumstances associated with athletic feats.
The 1984 gold medal won by an unidentified member of the US basketball team, a roster that included Patrick Ewing and Chris Mullin, sold for $83,188 on July 22, RR auction said.
It was a handsome sum, but a mere fraction of the roughly $1.5 million that a collector paid in 2019 for one of four gold medals won by Jesse Owens at the 1936 Summer Games in Berlin. Selling price set a record for a piece of Olympic memorabilia, according to SCP Auctions, the Laguna Niguel, Calif., auction house that handled the sale.
Black American track and field athlete Owens gave a prominent performance at those Games as Hitler.
Auction experts said that in addition to the origin and ownership history, medals such as the Genesis are known to be, their condition plays an important role in their price. Do they have their own original ribbon? Did they bring the case?
Not all Olympic medals are engraved with the name of the sport for which they were awarded, which auctioneers say could reduce their value if it is unclear.
In Tokyo, gold medals won by athletes contain more silver than actual gold, which is approximately 6 grams of a total weight of 556 grams. International Olympic Committee.
Philip Newman, founding partner and managing director of Metals Focus, a London-based research firm, said Sunday that those medals work out to about $800 in gold and silver.
“If you’re winning, I think the price is probably irrelevant,” Mr Newman said. “I’d be surprised if anyone thought they were pure gold.”
The silver medals awarded at the Tokyo Games are made of pure silver and weigh 550 grams, which is about $450, according to Mr Newman, who said the bronze medal would be worth much less. These contain red brass, which contains 95 percent copper and 5 percent zinc.
Each medal comes with a wooden case and has five Olympic rings, the official name of the Games, and Nike, the Greek goddess of victory, required by the IOC.
Some collectors will happily win bronze, Mr. Livingston said.
“They are still Olympic medals,” he said. “Third place is still great. As a collector, if you don’t have a lot of money you can start with bronze.”