December 8, 2013
Jesse Owens has set another record, this time in an online auction.
An Olympic Gold Medal won by the famous athlete in the 1936 Berlin Olympics has earned $1.4 million, the most ever for a piece of Olympic memorabilia. The winning bidder was Ron Burkle, co-owner of the National Hockey League's Pittsburgh Penguins. The Los Angeles billionaire also owns William Faulkner's Nobel Prize for literature.
SCP Auctions, based in Laguna Nigel, Calif., said that the medal could not be identified as for a specific event. Owens won gold in the 100-meter dash, 200-meter dash, 400-meter running relay, and long jump.
Owens' family sold the medal on behalf of the estate of Elaine Plaines-Robinson, the widow of Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, to whom Owens gave the gold medal as thanks for helping the famous athlete find work in the entertainment industry.
The medal is the only original one of the four for which the whereabouts are known. Owens was given a set of replacement medals, which are now on display in an exhibition at Ohio State University, which he attended. Owens died in 1980.
The Robinson had little comment on the auction, other than to say that they would contribute a sizable amount of the proceeds to the Jesse Owens Foundation and use some of the money to pay for college tuition.
The auction included more than 1,000 lots of sports memorabilia, including bats used by Jackie Robinson and a ball he signed, and earned in total more than $4 million.