$4.1 Million

James Watson’s Nobel medal sold for more than expected. He’s very happy.

After the sale, he said: “I’m very pleased. It’s more money than I expected to give to charity.”

What about the Hockney?

It’s pretty clear he’s desperately trying to buy a better reputation than his own words have given him. I don’t think it will work.


  1. =8)-DX says

    Ah yes, I always cry a few dry tears at all the good rich people giving all that extra dosh to charity when middle-class twits like me have to take extra work to avoid the red before Xmas..

  2. =8)-DX says

    Sorry if that sounded off: I’m just very touchy about “variously large random disposable income”. I’m luckier than most..

  3. Cuttlefish says

    “More than I expected to give to charity.”

    And, likely, more than you *will* give to charity.

  4. consciousness razor says

    Dr. Watson said most of the money would go to support institutions that had nurtured him, like the University of Chicago, which he entered as a 15-year-old undergraduate; Indiana University, where he received his Ph.D.; Cambridge, where he worked with Dr. Crick; and the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory on Long Island, where he has worked for many years.

    He had thought he could help pay for a gymnasium for the lab. “I’m very keen on exercise because I think it makes me a better scientist,” he said. “I play very hard tennis.”

    This is “charity”?

    But the gym remains out of reach: It would have been possible, he said on Thursday, only if the medal sold for $10 million.

    Oh, so sad. Now they’ll only get some punching bags and maybe an exercise bike.

  5. consciousness razor says

    But of course, it’ll be the James D. Watson Memorial Punching Bag. That’s still nice, I guess.

  6. consciousness razor says

    Hmm… It’ll have a nice, dignified portrait of James D. Watson on it, right? Yeah, he’s such a charitable guy who cares about your health, I bet he’d be down with that.

  7. gmcard says

    razor @ 5

    Unfortunately, it comes with a platform built around the bag so you can only punch down.

  8. cubist says

    sez watson: “I’m very pleased. It’s more money than I expected to give to charity.”
    Exactly how much money did Mr. Watson expect to give to charity? Depending on the answer to that question, his current statement could be true even if the medal only brought him 50 cents.

  9. says

    Why would anyone buy that? And for 4 million dollars?

    Whoever bought it, the totally non-frivolous nature of the purchase means that we need to cut that person’s taxes so that he or she can create jobs!

  10. zetopan says

    Unfortunately, the best possible outcome didn’t happen – that it received zero bids.

  11. Arren ›‹ neverbound says

    @ gmcard & Area Man

    Superb, the both of you. Thanks for a slight lightening of the day.

  12. khms says

    #12 NateHevens. He who hates straight, white, cis-gendered, able-bodied men (not really)

    But he went and opened his mouth. Too bad for him.

    There’s an old sentence that comes to mind:

    Si tacuisses, philosophus mansisses.

  13. Pete Shanks says

    The best quote, in my view, was in Nature:

    “I’m very pleased,” Watson said after the auction. “I wanted to be at least equal to Crick, but this exceeded his.”

    Crick’s went for $2.27 million. Even if Watson was kidding (which I actually doubt), it would be one of those jokes that reveal something about the joker.

  14. Sastra says

    consciousness razor #4 wrote:

    This is “charity”?

    Funding science and education? Yes, I think that counts. So would giving money to the arts.

  15. consciousness razor says

    Funding science and education? Yes, I think that counts.

    Not that they’re in dire need of any money; but yes, I know that University of Chicago, Indiana, Cambridge, and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory do science and education. A gymnasium, or some such monument to his ego which is more visible than a hunk of gold collecting dust on his mantle, doesn’t exactly do that though. It’s also not the sort of thing that comes to my mind when someone says “charity,” but maybe I’ve set my expectations too high.

  16. consciousness razor says


    The medal sold to an anonymous buyer who bid by phone. Including the buyer’s premium, which goes to the auction house, the total price was $4.76 million.

    So, somebody paid roughly $4.8M (if we round up) for this lump of metal, while about $4.1M is what Watson got in the deal, “most” of which will be used for his “charitable” purposes.

  17. U Frood says

    What do you do with someone else’s Nobel Prize medal?
    See this? This is for the discovery that someone else made, I’m very proud of it.

  18. Phillip Hallam-Baker says

    “What do you do with someone else’s Nobel Prize medal?”

    Well they aren’t making any more of them.

    Oh hold on, they are.