US Coins

Olympic goalie puts gold medal up for auction

The gold medal presented to Jim Craig as the goaltender for the United States’ “Miracle on Ice” men’s hockey team from the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, N.Y., is expected to bring between $1 million and $1.5 million in a Lelands online auction closing June 17.

The medal is one of 17 total lots consigned by Craig, a business consultant and motivational speaker who is president of Gold Medal Strategies. Bidding opened May 17.

Craig says he’s selling the Olympic memorabilia to provide a stable financial future for his children and grandchildren, and he also plans to donate some of the net proceeds to charity.

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The other lots include Craig’s hockey equipment worn in the semi-final game against the Soviet Union and championship game against Finland, as well as the American flag Craig draped himself in skating on the Olympic ice following the gold medal victory.

The 17 items and two others were unsuccessfully offered together in July 2015 by Lelands by private treaty for $5.7 million.

The lot description for Craig’s gold medal in the June auction states: “The ‘Miracle on Ice’ game was heroically fought during the height of the Cold War, the Soviet Union was portrayed as the enemy out to destroy our way of life. All of this was captured in this game, and the USSR’s collapse was hailed by the west as a victory for freedom, a triumph of democracy over totalitarianism, and evidence of the superiority of capitalism over socialism.”

In the game against the Soviet Union, Craig stopped 36 of 39 shots on goal, helping to propel the United States men’s hockey team to a 4–3 victory and a berth in the championship game.

Following the gold medal performance during which the United States defeated Finland 4–2, Craig went on to a professional career in the National Hockey League, playing between 1980 and 1983 for the Atlanta Flames, Boston Bruins and Minnesota North Stars.

Medal specifications

The medal being offered by Lelands is the one presented to Craig during the Feb. 24, 1980, awards ceremony.

Craig’s medal, with suspension clasp at the top, is 80 millimeters in diameter, 6.2 millimeters thick and weighs 221.2 grams.

The medal is composed of 24-karat gold plated over .925 fine silver and 0.075 copper.

The medal — with red, white and blue suspension ribbon and its original leather presentation box — depicts on the obverse an Olympian’s right hand raising a torch, with the Adirondack Mountains in the background, the five Olympic rings in the central right field and, to the left of the torch, inscribed in raised lettering in four lines, XIII / OLYMPIC / WINTER / GAMES.

On the reverse, the Lake Placid Olympic Games logo is at top center. The central device at right is a conifer branch with cones.

Inscribed in raised lettering in the top left field in three lines is LAKE / PLACID / 1980. Engraved incuse in two lines below is ICE HOCKEY / JIM CRAIG.

The medal’s edge is inscribed incuse with TIFFANY & CO., STERLING SILVER © 1979. 

Tiffany & Co. designed the medal, which was struck by Medallic Art Co. when the firm was headquartered in Danbury, Conn.

Craig’s medal is listed in Excellent to Mint condition, according to the auction lot description.

Teammates medals sold

Craig’s medal is not the first to be offered for sale by members of the 1980 hockey team, as several others have been sold. 

Craig’s teammate, forward Mark Pavelich, who also played hockey professionally, sold his gold medal at auction in May 16, 2014, for $262,900 through Heritage Auctions.

The gold medal of teammate Mark Wells realized $310,700 at public auction Nov. 5, 2010, through Heritage.

Dave Christian put up his gold medal through Heritage Feb. 21, 2016, for a Buy-It-Now price of $350,000, but the medal did not sell after bids did not meet the reserve minimum.

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