A Nobel price as DNA prize to go under the hammer

Jenny Buckley – News Editor 26 February 2013

Sixty years after first being awarded, Francis Crick’s Nobel prize for the discovery of DNA is to be put up for auction. Following the scientist’s death in 2004, the family intend to sell the award, which is made of 23 carat gold, along with its accompanying diploma.

The prize was awarded in 1962 to Crick along with his colleague, James Watson, for the discovery of the DNA double helix some nine years previously. The pair famously announced that they had found the ‘secret of life’ on 28 February 1953 in their local pub, The Eagle.

Although a rare occurrence, this is not the first time that Nobel prizes have been made available for purchase. In 1902, the Royal Swedish mint made Nobel Literature medals, the exact same size as the originals, for museums and collectors in silver, silver gilt and bronze.

The 1956 prize for Chemistry, awarded to Cyril Norman Hinshelwood, was the first to be sold publically. The medal was bought privately from the Hinshelwood estate for $15,000 dollars by an anonymous collector and was offered almost immediately for resale with a value of $50,000.

Crick’s medal and diploma have valued at $500,000 although some coin experts have been estimating that the prize could fetch as much as $5 million. A proportion of the funds generated by the sale are to be given to research institutions in both the UK and the US.

Kindra Crick, the granddaughter of Francis, commented that the decision to sell the prize resulted from it being kept ‘tucked away’ too long: ‘We really were interested in finding someone who could look after it, and possibly put it on display so it could inspire the next generation of scientists.’

The sale is to be handled by Christies and is due to take place in New York on 10 April. Other items available to purchase will include crick’s lab coat, books, nautical journals and gardening logs.

Jenny Buckley – News Editor