James Watson's DNA Nobel Prize sets world record in New York

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2015-06-26 11:25:45

The 1962 Nobel Prize awarded to James Watson for his discovery of the DNA double helix has set a new world record in New York.

The award was the first ever offered at auction by a surviving winner, and was sold alongside a pair of rare manuscripts from Watson's acceptance speech and Nobel lecture.

Estimated at $2.5-$3.5 million, the 23 carat gold award quickly soared to a final price of $4,757,000 in front of a packed auction room.

The manuscript draft notes for Watson's Nobel Prize banquet speech then sold for $365,000, followed by the original Holograph Manuscript for his Nobel Lecture 'The Involvement of RNA in the Synthesis of Proteins' which realized $245,000.

“We are honored to have been entrusted with the sale of the Nobel Prize medal awarded in 1962 to Dr. James Watson for his part in one of the most pivotal scientific discoveries of the 20th century, the structure of DNA," said Francis Wahlgren, Christie's International Director of Books & Manuscripts.

"The bidding opened at $1.5 million and proceeded swiftly upward as a three-way battle between clients on the phone, until one bidder dropped out at the $3.8 million mark. The remaining two phone bidders battled on in increments of $100,000, until the final, record-setting price of $4.76 million was achieved – more than double the previous price realized for a Nobel Prize medal at auction."

The previous record had stood at $2.27 million, achieved in 2013 by the award given to Watson's partner Francis Crick at the same ceremony.

"These historic prices, as well as the strong prices achieved for Dr. Watson’s Nobel acceptance speech and lecture manuscript, demonstrate the growing strength in the market for the iconic pieces related to the early understanding and development of the implications of DNA and its growing relevance today,” commented Wahlgren.

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