Jesse Owens Olympic Gold Medal From 1936 Berlin Games Sells for $1.4M

Monday, 09 Dec 2013 09:09 AM

By Michael Mullins

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A Jesse Owens Olympic gold medal from the 1936 Berlin Games sold for $1.4 million in an online auction that ended Sunday.

The piece of Olympic memorabilia now belongs to Pittsburgh Penguins co-owner Ron Burkle, a venture capitalist with strong ties to Bill and Hillary Clinton. According to Forbes, Burkle has an estimated net worth of $2.7 billion.

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Burkle paid $1,466,574 for the Olympic gold, though it was not reported by SCP Auctions which of Owens' Olympic gold medals Burkle had purchased, considering the track and field athlete won the 100 and 200-meter sprints as well as the 400-meter relay and long jump.



''We just hope that it's purchased by an institution where the public could have access to it, a museum or something like that,'' Owens' daughter, Marlene Owens Rankin of Chicago, told The Associated Press before the sale.

Though Burkle did not respond to media inquiries on Sunday, the Laguna Niguel, Calif.-based auction house told the AP that the high-bidder plans to incorporate the medal into an educational tour of historic pieces. Burkle is also said to own William Faulkner's Nobel Prize for literature.

The gold medal sold in Sunday's auction was reportedly given by Owens to his friend – movie star and dancer Bill ''Bojangles'' Robinson, who had apparently helped Owens find work in tinseltown after the Olympics. The medal was sold by the estate of Robinson's late widow, Elaine Plaines-Robinson, the AP reported, noting that the whereabouts of the other three Gold medals are unknown.

''We are honored to have handled what we consider to be among the most inspiring sports artifacts ever offered at auction,'' SCP Auctions Vice President Dan Imler said. ''The worldwide attention garnered by the auction of Jesse Owens' 1936 gold medal and the extraordinary auction result proves that Owens' triumphant legacy continues to endure.''

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the medal will be donated to the Jesse Owens Foundation. The Robinson family had declined to comment on the auction, but Imler said they also plan to use the proceeds to pay college tuition.

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More than 1,000 sports memorabilia items were sold in the auction that ended Sunday amounting to $4.5 million in sales, the AP noted. Among the other highlights featured on the auction block were Jackie Robinson's game-used bats from his historic 1949 National League Most Valuable Player season and the 1955 World Series. The bats sold for $183,500 and $128,617, respectively.

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