Millions raised for Ukrainian refugees as Russian Nobel Peace Prize winner sells award

A Nobel Peace Prize given to Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov auctioned to raise money for Ukrainian child refugees has sold for a record $US103.5 million ($A149 million).
Previously, the most paid for a Nobel Prize medal was in 2014, when James Watson —whose co-discovery of the structure of DNA earned him a Nobel Prize in 1962 — sold his medal for $US4.76 million ($A6.86 million).
Mr Muratov’s medal was sold by Heritage Auctions on Monday, which was also World Refugee Day.

The journalist has been highly critical of Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and the invasion launched in February that has caused nearly five million Ukrainians to flee to other countries for safety, creating the largest humanitarian crisis in Europe since World War Two.

A bidder within a crowd holds up a paddle to signal their bid on the medal.

A bidder takes part in the auction of the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize medallion which sold for a record breaking amount. Source: AAP / JASON SZENES/EPA

Since Mr Putin came into power more than two decades ago, nearly two dozen journalists have been killed and at least four of those killed had worked for Novaya Gazeta, an independent Russian newspaper Mr Muratov helped found.

Mr Muratov was awarded the gold medal in October 2021, and was editor-in-chief at Novaya Gazeta when it shut down in March amid the Kremlin’s clampdown on journalists and public dissent.
It was Mr Muratov’s idea to auction off his prize, having already announced he was donating its accompanying $US500,000 cash award to charity.
The idea of the donation, he said, “is to give the children refugees a chance for a future”.
Mr Muratov has said the proceeds will go directly to UNICEF in its efforts to help children displaced by the war in Ukraine, which Russia referred to as a “special military operation” aimed at denazifiying the country.
Melted down, the 175 grams of 23-carat gold contained in Mr Muratov’s medal would be worth about $US10,000 ($A14,403).

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Mr Muratov told The Associated Press it is important international sanctions levied against Russia do not prevent humanitarian aid, such as medicine for rare diseases and bone marrow transplants, from reaching those in need.
“It has to become a beginning of a flash mob as an example to follow so people auction their valuable possessions to help Ukrainians,” he said in a video released by Heritage Auctions, which has said it would not taking any share of the proceeds for the sale.
Mr Muratov shared the Nobel Peace Prize last year with journalist Maria Ressa of the Philippines.

The two journalists, who each received their own medal, were honoured for their battles to preserve free speech in their respective countries, despite coming under attack by harassment, their governments and even death threats.