James Watson's Nobel Prize sets a new world record

The Nobel Prize medal awarded to James D Watson, a member of the team that discovered the structure of DNA, has sold for $4.7m.

The lot starred in a dedicated sale at Christie's New York on December 4, setting a new world record for a Nobel Prize at auction.

Watson Nobel medal
Watson was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1953

The previous record was held by Francis Crick's medal, which made $2.2m in 2013.

Watson (alongside Crick, Rosalind Franklin and Maurice Wilkins) made the discovery in 1953.

Each was awarded the medal in 1962 "for their discoveries concerning the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for information transfer in living material".

Sadly, Franklin was ineligible, as she died in 1958. The prize is never awarded posthumously.

A letter of provenance from Watson accompanied the medal. It reads in part: "I knew I would soon auction off my 1962 Gold Nobel Medal the moment I learned that Francis Crick's Gold Medal, May 2013, had been so sold for more than two million dollars�Ǫ

"Now I plan to give away to charitable bodies at least one half of my after taxes auction proceeds. My early days as a youthful ornithologist have made me long focused on the preservation of our local Long Island landscape�Ǫ

"Only through continued major philanthropy will the academic world provide environments where great ideas and decency prevail."

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