A gold Nobel Prize medal for Economic Sciences awarded to economist
Simon Smith Kuznets in 1971 brought $390,848 at
a Feb. 26 auction by Los Angeles auctioneer Nate D. Sanders.
The bidding began at $150,000, with two bidders competing beyond the
$250,000 level, until it sold for a bid of $320,000 (with an
additional commission of 21.5 percent that raised the final total to $390,848).
The medal was awarded in a ceremony on Dec. 11, 1971, with the Nobel
Prize committee recognizing Kuznets’ “empirically founded
interpretation of economic growth which has led to new and deepened
insight into the economic and social structure and process of
development.” At the time of the award he was affiliated with Harvard
University in Cambridge, Mass.
Kuznets died in 1985, leading an economic journal to write that he
made a decisive contribution to the transformation of economics into
empirical science and to the formation of quantitative economic history.
Among his findings was the Kuznets curve, an inverted U-shaped graph
of the relation between income inequality and economic growth. While
in poor countries, economic growth increased the income disparity
between the poor and the affluent, in wealthier countries economic
growth narrowed the difference between rich and poor.
The Nobel Foundation noted his “extensive
research on the economic growth of nations, developed methods for
calculating the size of, and changes in, national income.”
The economist’s name is engraved on the edge of the medal. The
obverse depicts Alfred Nobel and the reverse has the North Star emblem
of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.
Consigned by his son
According to the auction firm, the medal was consigned by his son,
Paul Wolf Kuznets. A letter of authenticity from his son accompanied
the lot, as did the original red leather presentation case with Simon
Kuznets’ name stamped in gold.
The auction firm noted the medal’s weight as 7.25 ounces and its
diameter at 2.5 inches were “consistent with the original Nobel Prizes
awarded in 1971.”
The lot also included a copy of a Nobel Prize speech annotated by
Kuznets. The firm added that the medal was one of only a handful ever
sold at auction, and the first in the category of Economic Sciences.
A Feb. 27 article by Tara Siegel Bernard in The
New York Times stated that 889 Nobel Prize medals have
been awarded since 1901 and that the 23-karat gold medal had a gold
metal value of approximately $8,700.
The winning bidder was anonymous, and Bernard reported that the
consignor was pleased with the sales price, with him adding,
“Hopefully, somebody or some institution will enjoy having it.”
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