Speaking of Olympic Medals, I thought for sure someone would forward me this
September 17, 2014 USA Today article about the market for Olympic medals. You people are
slipping! How'd you miss this one? -Editor
A winning performance is not the only means to an
Olympic gold medal.
Sometimes it only takes a winning bid.
Gold, silver and bronze Olympic winners' medals pop up regularly in auctions around the
world and occasionally on eBay. Collectors compete as avidly for them as sprinters in the 100-meter
Medals are also sold privately, sometimes before the Olympic flame goes out.
"People will tell you, 'There's no way you'll ever get one of them,'"
said Don Bigsby, president of the Olympin Collectors Club. "When you're a collector,
that's what sets you in motion to try to get them."
On Thursday, 14 Olympic medals go on the block in a live sale conducted by RR Auction in Boston.
Another 40 medals, including 17 that were not awarded, are part of the Ingrid O'Neil mail bid
auction ending Oct. 4. The next 17 days offer the greatest number of Olympic medals for public
consumption with the exception of the Games themselves.
"It's the thrill," O'Neil said. "People would like to be a winner, they
would like to participate, but they never can. So their next best thing is they own one of these
While athletes sacrifice blood, sweat and years for a medal, the cost to purchase one is not as
dear as you'd expect from recent high-profile sales.
Last December, one of the four Olympic gold medals won by Jesse Owens in 1936 was snapped up for
a record $1.47 million by billionaire Ron Burkle.
A "Miracle on Ice" 1980 ice hockey gold medal awarded to Mark Wells sold for $310,700
in 2010, while a similar medal belonging to Mark Pavelich and engraved with his name went for
$262,900 last May.
"Everybody who calls me and says, 'I want to sell a medal' and I give them a quote
of what medals usually bring — they are totally disappointed," said O'Neil, who has
auctioned Olympic memorabilia for 25 years. "They can't believe it. They think, 'OK,
Jesse Owens' medal went for $1.4 million, mine should be worth at least $200,000 or
Instead, O'Neil estimates that the most common bronze medal from the Summer Olympics should
bring $5,000-$6,000, a silver $8,000 and a gold $10,000. In addition, gold medals have not been
solid gold since 1912. They are mostly silver.
Winter Olympic medals are rarer because there are fewer athletes and events. They can range from
about $10,000 to more than $30,000.
Extra medals are made in case of ties or to be given to dignitaries. Many are indistinguishable
from awarded medals, though some may lack additional engraving of the event name. In
O'Neil's auction, two 1932 medals are marked as souvenirs and 12 came from the studio of
the 1932 designer.
O'Neil believes only 50 people around the world collect Olympic medals, half of them in the
Dick Fosbury, who won a gold medal in 1968 in the high jump, doesn't resent people who buy
the same type of medal he earned.
"Most collectors really care about the objects," he said. "They are careful and
understand that it's precious."
To read the complete article, see:
Olympic medals hit the market in record number
Wayne Homren, Editor
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