Dr. James D. Watson, one of three 1962
recipients of the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for
co-discovering the structure of DNA, is offering his gold medal for
auction Dec. 4 by Christie's in New York.
The auction is to be held in Christie's New York offices at 20
The medal is estimated to bring between $2.5 million and $3.5
million, according to Christie's.
The gold medal presented to one of Watson's co-recipients, Dr. Francis Crick, along with Crick's Nobel
Prize diploma, brought $2,270,500 in an April 11, 2013, sale in New
York by Heritage Auctions. Dr. Crick's medal and diploma were
purchased by Jack Wang, the chief executive officer of Biomobie, a
biomedical firm in Shanghai, China.
Watson's medal is identified by Christie's as being the first to be
sold by a Nobel Prize recipient while the recipient is still alive.
Watson, 86, says he plans to use half the after-tax auction proceeds
to continue his philanthropic donations, which include the Cold Spring Harbor
Laboratory on New York's Long Island, the University of Chicago
and Clare College Cambridge. Watson is chancellor emeritus and a
research scientist at the New York laboratory, working on a cure for
Clare College Cambridge was where Watson and Dr. Crick lived when on
Feb. 28, 1953, they put together the basic features of the DNA double helix.
Designed by Swedish artist Erik Lindberg, Watson's 66-millimeter
medal weighs 198.6 grams.
The medal is 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 reverse bears a second inscription, REG.
UNIVERSITAS MED. CHIR. CAROL (“The Karolinska Institutet”).
Watson'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: J.D. WATSON/MCMLXII.
According to the Christie's lot description, the piece has a
"rim marked 'GULD 1950' (Kungliga Mynt och Justeringsverket
[Swedish Royal Mint])." The pieces were struck at the Swedish
Waton, Crick and a third researcher who shared the 1962 prize, 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.
For more information on the sale, visit the Christie's website. The online
catalog for the sale can be accessed here.
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