Dr. James D. Watson's Nobel Prize medal for sale at Christie's



2015-06-26 11:25:22

A Nobel Prize gold medal awarded for one of the biggest breakthroughs in scientific history will be offered at Christie's next month.

On December 4 in New York, the auction house will present the 1962 Nobel Prize gold medal awarded to Dr. James D. Watson – who, along with Dr. Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins, discovered the double helix structure of DNA and created the new science of molecular biology.

The discovery of the double-helix structure of DNA was announced in a now-famous article by Watson and Crick in the journal Nature in April 1953, and is regarded as the most important scientific event of the 20th century.

Crick, described as "one of the world’s greatest living scientists", then wrote the first scientific text book on the subject, Molecular Biology of the Gene (1965), and followed it with his memoir of the discovery, The Double Helix (1968), which became one of the biggest-selling popular science books in history.

The auction is the first time in history that a Nobel Prize has been offered for sale by a living recipient, with a portion of the proceeds to be donated to scientific research, academic institutions and other charitable causes supported by Crick.

The medal comes with an estimate of $2.5 to $3.5 million, and will be offered alongside Crick's notes for his acceptance speech in Stockholm (estimated at $300,000-$400,000), and the manuscript for his Nobel Lecture, delivered the following day (estimated at $200,000-$300,000).

"Watson’s 1962 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine represents not merely a pinnacle in scientific achievement, but the beginnings of an intellectual life story that continues to this day," said Christie's in a statement regarding the sale. "The beauty of the double helix was manifold, implying methods of replication that underpin the inheritance of biological traits and form the basis of the entire field of molecular biology."

“I look forward to making further philanthropic gifts to Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, the University of Chicago, and Clare College Cambridge, so I can continue to do my part in keeping the academic world an environment where great ideas and decency prevail," said Dr. Watson. "I also intend to direct funds to the Long Island Land Trust and other local charities I have long supported.”

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