Published On: Wed, Dec 10th, 2014

Russian Tycoon Buys James Watson’s Nobel Medal and Gives It Back

Alisher Usmanov Visits The Turner Bequest

Alisher Usmanov, richest man in Russia and major shareholder in Arsenal, the British football team, purchased a Nobel Prize medal auctioned at Christie’s, so he could return it to its original owner, James Watson.

Watson, along with Maurice Wilkins and Francis Crick, were given the Nobel in 1962 for discovering the precise sequence of DNA. Usmanov bought the medal to give back to Watson for 3 million pounds or $4.7 million. This was the only time a Noble medal has been sold by a living recipient and the amount of the purchase is also a record.

Watson said he was auctioning off his medal to raise funds for charity. He admitted for feeling a bit like a pariah, and an “unperson” since he made remarks on a Sunday Times interview years ago making a connection between intelligence and race.

Usmanov said, “In my opinion, a situation in which an outstanding scientist has to sell a medal recognizing his achievements is unacceptable. 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.”

Usmanov, who is Muslim, is married to Jewish rhythmic gymnastics coach Irina Viner in 1992. She is a confidant of President Vladimir Putin, whom she introduced to his current partner, one of her former trainees, Alina Kabaeva.

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