Nobel Peace Prize goes up for auction to help Ukrainian kids

The idea of ​​the sale is “to give the refugee children a chance for a future”.

NEW YORK – How much does peace cost?

That question could be partially answered on Monday night when Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov will auction his Nobel Peace Prize medal. Proceeds go directly to UNICEF in its efforts to help children displaced by the war in Ukraine.

Muratov, who was awarded the gold medal in October 2021, helped found the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta and was the publication’s editor-in-chief when it was shut down in March when the Kremlin protested against journalists and public opposition following the Russian invasion of Ukraine proceeded .

It was Muratov’s idea to auction his prize, having already announced that he would donate the accompanying $500,000 prize to charity. The idea of ​​the donation is “to give the refugee children a chance for a future”.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Muratov said he was particularly concerned about children orphaned as a result of the conflict in Ukraine.

“We want to give them their future back,” he said.

He added that the important international sanctions against Russia are not preventing humanitarian aid, such as drugs for rare diseases and bone marrow transplants, from reaching those in need.

“It has to be the start of a flash mob to follow so people will auction off their prized possessions to help Ukrainians,” Muratov said in a video released by Heritage Auctions, which handles the sale but does not take a share of the proceeds .

Muratov shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Filipino journalist Maria Ressa last year.

The two journalists, each receiving their own medals, were honored for their fight to uphold freedom of expression in their respective countries despite being targeted by harassment, their governments and even death threats.

Muratov has criticized Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the war that began in February, which caused nearly 5 million Ukrainians to flee to other countries for security reasons, leading to the biggest humanitarian crisis in Europe since World War II.

Independent journalists in Russia have come under scrutiny, if not outright government targets, by the Kremlin. Since Putin came to power more than two decades ago, nearly two dozen journalists have been killed, including at least four who worked for Muratov’s newspaper.

In April, Muratov said he was attacked on a red-painted Russian train.

Muratov left Russia for Western Europe on Thursday to begin his journey to New York City, where live bidding will begin Monday afternoon.

Online bidding began on June 1 to coincide with the celebration of International Children’s Day. Monday’s live bidding falls on World Refugee Day.

Early Monday morning, the highest bid was $550,000. The purchase price is expected to skyrocket, possibly into the millions.

“It’s a very bespoke deal,” said Joshua Benesh, Chief Strategy Officer of Heritage Auctions. “Not everyone in the world has a Nobel Prize to auction and not every day of the week that a Nobel Prize crosses the auction block.”

Since its inception in 1901, nearly 1,000 Nobel Prize winners have been recognized for achievements in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature and peacebuilding.

The highest Nobel Prize medal ever paid was in 2014 when James Watson, whose co-discovery of the structure of DNA earned him a Nobel Prize in 1962, sold his medal for $4.76 million. Three years later, the family of his fellow recipient, Francis Crick, received $2.27 million in bids from Heritage Auctions, the same company that auctions Muratov’s medal.

Melted down, the 175 grams of 23-karat gold in Muratov’s medal would be worth around $10,000.

The ongoing war and international humanitarian efforts to alleviate the suffering of those affected in Ukraine are likely to spark interest, Benesh said, adding that it’s difficult to predict how much anyone is willing to pay for the medal.

“I think there will certainly be some excitement on Monday,” said Benesh. “It is such a unique item, sold in unique circumstances… such a significant act of generosity and such a significant humanitarian crisis.”

Muratov and Heritage officials said even those who don’t apply can still help by donating directly to UNICEF.

Associated Press writer Andrew Katell contributed to this report. Nobel Peace Prize goes up for auction to help Ukrainian kids

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