Olga Korbut parting with awards for Olympic performances that brought worldwide recognition

Former Soviet gymnast’s medals crossing Heritage auction block
By , Coin World
Published : 02/06/17
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One of the most celebrated athletes in Olympic history, former Soviet gymnast Olga Korbut, now 61, has personally consigned to Heritage Auctions’ Feb. 25 and 26 sale her complete collection of Olympic medals and memorabilia.

The consignment includes, combined, three gold medals and two silver medals that she won in the 1972 Summer Olympic Games in Munich and the 1976 Summer Games in Montreal, along with medals and related items from before and after her Olympic performances.

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A 20 percent buyer’s fee will be added to the final closing hammer price of each lot won.

1972 Munich, team gold

Korbut’s offering of Olympic medals includes her team gold medal from the 1972 Munich Olympics as a member of the Soviet women’s gymnastics team

The gold medal is crafted from pure silver overlaid with gold. The 66-millimeter medal’s total weight is 175 grams.

Designed by Gerhard Marcks and struck at the Bavarian Mint, the medal's obverse depicts Victory seated holding a laurel wreath and palm branch before the Colosseum. The mythological Roman twins Castor and Pollux appear naked on the reverse.

Only 364 gold medals were created for presentation at the Munich Games, which were marred by the deaths of 11 Israeli Olympic team members who, after being taken hostage, were killed along with a German police officer by the Palestinian terrorist group Black September.

The medal is offered with its original chain, presentation box, and a letter of provenance from Korbut.

1972 Munich, individual floor exercise, gold

Korbut’s medals offering includes her individual floor exercise gold medal from Munich.

This is the only individual gold medal for Korbut available, as her gold medal for the balance beam event from these games was stolen from a Moscow museum.

1972 Munich, individual uneven bars, silver

The Munich silver medal for placing second in the individual uneven bars competition is 66 millimeters in diameter and was crafted at the Bavarian Mint from 160 grams of solid silver.

Engraved incuse on the upper edge is TURNEN STUFENBARREN FRAUEN, KORBUT OLGA.

The medal is housed in its original presentation case.

1976 Montreal, team gold

At the Montreal Olympics, Korbut won gold as a member of the Soviet women’s gymnastics team.

The victory was the seventh link in an unbroken chain of eight Soviet team gold medals for the women’s gymnastics team, dating from the 1952 Helsinki Games through the 1980 Games in Moscow, a streak that ended with the Soviet boycott of the 1984 Los Angeles Games. (The Soviets won again at Seoul in 1988, and as a post-Soviet “Unified Team” in 1992 at Barcelona.)

Giuseppi Cassioli designed the Montreal gold medal produced at the Royal Canadian Mint. The 160-gram, 60-millimeter medal is crafted from silver overlaid with gold. It features a seated Victory holding a laurel wreath and palm branch before the Colosseum on the obverse. A large laurel wreath and the Montreal Games emblem comprise the reverse design. GYMNASTIQUE is engraved incuse on the lower edge.

The original gold-plated chain is included. Only 420 of the gold medals were created for presentation at Montreal.

1976 Montreal, individual balance beam, silver

Korbut captured the individual second place silver medal for the balance beam, behind only Romanian superstar Nadia Comaneci.

The medal, one of 420 silver medals created for presentation in Montreal in 1976, measures 60 millimeters in diameter and is composed of 154 grams of solid silver.

1969 competition

Korbut won one of her first important competitive medals in 1969 for gymnastics.

The 1.25-inch bronze medal, offered in the Heritage sale, was awarded during a competition sponsored by the Army of the USSR. The medal is notated on the back in Cyrillic.

Olympic identification

The auction includes Korbut’s photo identification tag from the 1972 Munich Games that depicts the then-17-year-old gymnast in her Soviet gymnastics jacket.

Secured through the top of the badge is a white ponytail band that she wore during the 1972 competition.

First U.S. passport

Korbut includes in the sale her first U.S. passport, issued in 2000 to Olga Valentinovna Korbut and signed by her as Olga Korbut.

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