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One of the four gold medals that the legendary Jesse Owens won during the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin has sold for $615,000 (£468,000/€556,000) at auction.

The final price is significantly lower than the record of $1,466,574 (£1,132,239/€1,324,488) another of Owens’ Berlin 1936 gold medals sold for in 2013.

That was highest price in history for a piece of Olympic memorabilia. 

The Goldin Auctions’ 2019 Holiday Auction featured the gold medal, which carried a minimum bid of $250,000 (£193,000/€226,000).


A total of 11 bids for the gold medal were received during the online auction which had opened on November 18 and ended last night.

The price at the start of the final day had begun at $270,000 (£205,000/€244,000) but rose steadily in the final hours.

Owens won gold medals in the 100 and 200 metres, the 4x100m and long jump at Berlin 1936 and was credited with single-handedly crushing Adolf Hitler’s myth of Aryan supremacy.

Gold medals awarded at the 1936 Olympics were not marked by event, however, so it is not possible to know which of Owens’ medals is up for sale.

The whereabouts of two of the medals are unknown. 


They were reportedly put up for auction in April 2017 but there was never any record of them being sold. 

The gold medal sold in 2013 was put up for auction by the estate of Elaine Plaines-Robinson, wife of entertainer Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, a close friend of Owens who died in 1949.

A release from Goldin Auctions revealed the medal being auctioned comes from the children of John Terpak Sr., an Olympic weightlifter who befriended Owens and received it from him.

Terpak, the world weightlifting champion in 1936 and 1947, died in 1993. 

Owens had died in 1980.


The New Jersey-based Goldin Auctions revealed on its website that they had received requests from several museums to display the medal “as a loan or a gift”. 

This included the Jesse Owens Museum in Alabama. 

But former Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda’s autographed line-up card from the 2000 Olympic baseball gold medal game, when the United States beat Cuba, failed to attract a bid and remained unsold.

It had been put up at a minimum price of $700 (£533/€633).



Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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