British scientist Dr. Francis Harry Compton Crick’s gold 1962 Nobel
Prize for Physiology or Medicine, for co-discovering the structure of
DNA, was sold April 11 at auction in New York City to a Chinese buyer
The auction lot also included Crick’s Nobel diploma and medal
The buyer, Jack Wang, the chief executive officer of Biomobie, a
Shanghai, China, biomedical firm, flew to New York specifically to
attend Heritage Auctions’ sale and buy the medal.
The auction was held at the Ukrainian Institute of America at The
“Dr. Crick’s Nobel Prize medal and diploma will be used to
encourage scientists unraveling the mysteries of the Bioboosti, a
bioelectrical signal that may control and enable the regeneration of
damaged human organs,” Wang said after the auction. “The discovery of
the Bioboosti may launch a biomedical revolution like the discovery of
the structure of DNA. It may recover damaged human organs and retard
the aging process, achieving the goal of self recovering from disease
and poor health conditions.”
Heritage Auction’s President Greg Rohan said April 11 that three
bidders participated on HALive before the auction started. The opening
bid of $250,000 had risen to $280,000 when the live bidding began.
One telephone bidder placing bids from Asia dropped out when the
hammer price reached $1 million, Rohan said.
“From $1 million to the final hammer of $1.9 million, the bidding
was back and forth in $100,000 increments between two Europeans who
had flown in together for the auction, and Jack Wang who flew in from
Shanghai and was the successful bidder at $1.9 million hammer, which
is $2,270,000 including the buyer’s premium [of 19.5 percent].”
Rohan said the auction gallery was packed with bidders who were
also there for the manuscripts portion of the auction, and with
representatives from nine different news organizations.
The medal, accompanied by Crick’s Nobel diploma and medal
presentation case, was one of 10 lots consigned by Crick’s heirs to
Heritage’s two-day auction. An undisclosed portion of the proceeds
from the Crick lots will be used to help promote scientific research
at the new Francis Crick Institute in London, set to be completed in 2015.
Wang also paid $77,675 to acquire the canceled check Crick
received for his third portion of the Nobel Prize monetary reward.
The check’s face value of 85,739.88 Swedish krona is equivalent to
slightly more than $13,500 in U.S. dollars today.
Wang was also the top bidder for Crick’s lab coat on which is
emblazoned a gold spiral logo resembling a DNA molecule, winning it
On April 10, an unidentified buyer paid a record $6,059,750 at
auction at Christie’s in New York for a seven-page letter Crick wrote
March 19 to his 12-year-old son, Michael, who was away at boarding
school. In the letter, Crick described and illustrated the DNA
molecule’s double-helix structure, which was weeks away from being
Michael Crick, accompanied by his daughter, Kindra, attended both
the Christie’s and Heritage auctions.
According to Christie’s, Crick’s family plans to give half of the
proceeds from the sale of the DNA letter to the Salk Institute in California.
Designed by Swedish artist Erik Lindberg, Crick’s 65-millimeter
medal weighs 198.6 grams.
Struck in 23-karat gold, the obverse features a side portrait of
Alfred Nobel with the dates of his birth and death in Roman numerals.
The reverse “represents the Genius of Medicine holding an open book in
her lap, collecting the water pouring out from a rock in order to
quench a sick girl’s thirst,” according to the auction lot description.
An inscription appears above the figures, reading: INVENTAS VITAM
JUVAT EXCOLUISSE PER ARTES. Taken from the sixth song, verse 663, of
Virgil’s Aeneid, it is translated as “Inventions Enhance Life Which Is
Beautified Through Art.”
The lower outside section of the medal bears a second inscription,
REG. UNIVERSITAS MED. CHIR. CAROL (“The Karolinska Institutet”).
Dr. Crick’s initials and surname are engraved on the reverse of
his Nobel Prize medal, along with the year of the prize, 1962,
presented in Roman numerals: F. H. C. CRICK/MCMLXII.
Dr. Crick and two of his fellow researchers — Dr. James Dewey
Watson and Dr. Maurice Hugh Frederick Wilkins — received their medals
from the hand of King Gustav VI Adolf of Sweden at the Stockholm
Concert Hall on Dec. 10, 1962.
Rosalind Franklin, who also contributed to the DNA discovery, died
in 1958 before the Nobel was awarded. It is not awarded posthumously.
Crick’s medal had been secured in a safe deposit box in California
since his widow, Odile, passed away July 5, 2007, according to
Dr. Crick died July 28, 2004, in San Diego. ■