Russian tycoon Alisher Usmanov has revealed that he bought James Watson’s Nobel Prize gold medal, and intends to return it to him.
Steel and telecoms tycoon Alisher Usmanov said James Watson “deserved” the medal, and that he was “distressed” the scientist had felt forced to sell it.
The medal, awarded in 1962 for the discovery of the structure of DNA, sold for $4.8 million at auction.
The medal was the first Nobel Prize to be put on sale by a living recipient.
James Watson, 86, has said he planned to donate part of the proceeds to charities and to support scientific research.
In an interview with the Financial Times recently, James Watson said he had been made to feel like an “unperson” since a Sunday Times interview seven years ago in which he linked race to intelligence.
Alisher Usmanov said in a statement that he was the anonymous telephone bidder who bought the medal at a Christie’s auction last week.
“In my opinion, a situation in which an outstanding scientist has to sell a medal recognizing his achievements is unacceptable,” he added.
“James Watson is one of the greatest biologists in the history of mankind and his award for the discovery of DNA structure must belong to him.”
Alisher Usmanov, said by Forbes magazine to be worth $15.8 billion, is a major shareholder in Arsenal football club and was named Britain’s wealthiest man in the Sunday Times rich list for 2013.
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