US Coins

Nobel Peace Prize brings in a whopping $487,500

A gold Nobel Peace Prize medal awarded in 1982 to Alfonso García Robles for his achievements in nuclear disarmament realized $487,500 at a Christie’s April 28 auction in New York. It was the final offering of a 28-lot auction titled The Exceptional Sale, a diverse group of objects with historic and artistic significance spreading various auction categories.

After the sale, Becky MacGuire, Christie’s sale director for The Exceptional Sale, said that the buyer was a private collector who wishes to remain completely anonymous.

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The medal was described by Christie’s as “the ultimate prize for the ultimate contribution to the peace and security of Latin America and the Caribbean.”

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García Robles (1911 to 1991) is best known for his work in drafting the Feb. 14, 1967, Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean in the Tlatelolco district of Mexico City. The Treaty of Tlatelolco was the first instance of a nuclear weapons ban being applied in a populous region of the world and has been credited with keeping Latin America and the Caribbean free of nuclear weapons. In its description, Christie’s wrote, “A towering landmark in non-proliferation and disarmament, the Treaty’s principles, safeguards and verification measures remain highly influential today.”

The treaty’s two protocols are particularly significant. The first binds nations with territory in the region — including the United States, the United Kingdom, France and the Netherlands — to its provisions. The second prohibits the world’s declared nuclear weapons nations from undermining the treaty. It was signed and ratified by the United States, the United Kingdom, France, China and Russia. Earlier this year the U.S. Department of State said that the Treaty of Tlatelolco “paved the way for other similar zones that now cover 114 countries in four other regions of the globe, as well as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. … We celebrate the wisdom of its drafters fifty years ago.”

MacGuire said, “In 1962 Alfonso García Robles watched the Cuban Missile Crisis unfold a mere 1,500 miles from the coast of Mexico, and he resolved to put an end to the horrific nuclear threat to his beloved country and to the entire region,” adding, “His unwavering dedication to the cause of disarmament resulted in the groundbreaking treaty that did end that threat.”

She placed the medal in a broader framework, concluding, “The Nobel Peace Prize honouring García Robles reminds us of the very best in humanity, just as great, transformative works of art do.”

It is one of just three Nobel Prizes awarded to citizens of Mexico, the other two citizens being Octavio Paz, who received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1990, and Mario J. Molina, who received the 1995 Nobel Prize for Chemistry.

García Robles received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1982 alongside Swedish sociologist and politician Alva Myrdal, a vocal supporter of disarmament. It is one of 29 Nobel Peace Prizes that have been shared by two Nobel laureates.

Christie’s calls the Nobel Peace Prize the most prestigious of the five Nobel Prizes, and it has a different medal design from the other Nobel Prize medals.

The Nobel Peace Prize was established by Alfred Nobel to recognize those who “shall have done the most or the best work for the fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies, and for the holding of peace congresses.” It has been awarded 97 times to 130 Nobel laureates between 1901 and 2016.

The Nobel Peace Prize medal is distinctive for its expressive, textured profile portrait of Alfred Nobel facing left on the obverse. The reverse of the 18-karat gold 2.5-inch medal depicts a group of three standing male figures, their arms linked, with a Latin legend translated as “for the peace and brotherhood of all nations.” The edge is inscribed, LFONSO GARCIA ROBLES/PRIX NOBEL DE LA PAIX/1982. The medal was offered with its original blue leather case.

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