(ATR) Call it a slam dunk for the seller of a 1904 St. Louis Olympics basketball gold medal. It sold for $125,000 on Thursday in a Christie’s New York auction after the same medal garnered just $18,000 at a sale by Heritage Auctions of Texas in February.
St. Louis gold medal sells for $125,000 (Christie's New York)
The hammer price at Christie’s New York was $100,000 for the medal, which carried an estimate of $100,000 to $200,000. There was a 25-percent commission.
“Whoever bought it overpaid,” said Jonathan Becker, the Olympic consultant for RR Auction. “Rarely do you see something go that high just three months later.”
He tells Around the Rings
that he believes the value of the medal is $25,000-$35,000 because it is from a club competition at the St. Louis Games. Basketball did not become an official Olympic sport until 1936.
In addition, the design is not the same as for those medals made specifically for the 1904 Olympic Games and it is also missing the bar that says “1904 Universal Exposition Olympic Games St. Louis.”
The 14-karat gold medal was awarded to George Louis Redlein of the Buffalo Germans and is engraved with his name and “Olympic World Championship,” although it is unclear when it was engraved.
The Buffalo Germans were one of six club teams, all from the United States.
“Christie’s marketed it very well,” said Becker, who said the medal has crossover appeal to basketball collectors.
The medal was featured in a non-sports auction and billed as a “superb artifact of the original ‘Dream Team.’”
However, Becker added, “It’s worth what people are willing to pay for it.”
Another test of the 1904 St. Louis market is currently underway.
RR Auction, based in Boston, has a silver medal for track and field -- with the design that is considered more desirable -- for sale in its on-line auction closing June 21. It is for the high jump and was awarded to Joseph Stadler, the first African-American to win an Olympic silver medal. It is complete with its ribbon, bar and box. The medal soared to $51,000 within hours of the auction opening and has an estimate of $100,000-plus.
A golf gold medal won by Robert E. Hunter fetched $272,580 at a Christie’s South Kensington auction in September 2016, which was more than 10 times its estimate.
Less than a year later, in June 2017, a gold golf medal won by Chandler Egan sold for $120,000 and a silver for $42,000 in a Leland’s sale. The medals were famously found in a metal box behind a book in a bookcase by the grandson of Egan’s daughter, who had died at age 101.
A Jesse Owens gold medal from the 1936 Berlin Games collected the highest price paid for an Olympic medal sold at auction. In December, 2013, it sold for $1,466,574 in an SCP Auction. The buyer was Ron Burkle, owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Written by Karen Rosen
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