One of American track star Jesse Owens’ gold medals from the 1936
Berlin Olympics realized $1,466,574 in an online auction that closed
The medal was sold by SCP Auctions Inc., in Laguna Niguel, Calif.,
through online auctioneer www.SCPAuctions.com. The price included a 20
percent buyer’s fee. The firm reports that 30 bids were received for
Ron Burkle, billionaire investor and co-owner of the Pittsburgh
Penguins, purchased the medal, according to SCP Auctions President
David Kohler. Burkle, also owner of William Faulkner’s Nobel Prize for
Literature medal, has plans for an educational tour for the historic pieces.
Owens earned four gold medals at the Olympic Games, for winning
the 100-meter race, the 200-meter race and the long jump, all
individually, and as part of the 4x100-meter relay team.
The medal in the auction is pedigreed to the estate of entertainer
Bill “Bojangles” Robinson’s late widow, Elaine Plaines-Robinson. Owens
gave Bill Robinson the medal because he helped Owens find work in
entertainment following Owens’ Olympic exploits, as documented in the
biography Mr. Bojangles by N.R. Mitgang.
Owens’ other three medals were lost, and he was issued a
replacement set, which was featured as part of the 1976 Freedom Train
exhibit. Those replacements are now on exhibit at Owens’ alma mater,
Ohio Sate University.
Gold medals from the 1936 Olympics are seen at auction
occasionally, but cannot usually be traced to a recipient because,
prior to 1960, recipients’ names were not engraved on the edge as they
have been since that time. ■