Olympic Torches and Medals Sell for Above Expected Price in Auctions

by Anya Pelshaw 0

August 19th, 2021 International, News, Tokyo 2020

On July 22, Paris, France based Vermot & Associés held their auction titled “Sporlympic VII”. Six Olympic torches were sold at the auction for €2,200 or more. Boston, Massachusetts-based RR Auction also held an Olympic auction concluding July 22. That auction featured numerous historic Olympic medals, including a first-place medal from the first modern Olympic Games that took place in 1896, as well as 14 Olympic torches.

Before each Olympics, a torch relay takes place. Originally started before the 1936 Berlin Games, the torch, a symbol for international unity, added a relay that originated from the idea of nationalism. The route of the relay used to originate in Greece, and then could visit other countries and continents outside of the host city. Due to protests during the 2008 torch relay, in 2009, the International Olympic Committee ruled that after the initial lighting in Greece, the relay could only continue in each Olympic host country. 

French Auction featuring 6 Olympic Torches Results

See each torch Olympic year and sell price below (€1=$1.18):

  • 1936 Berlin: €3,000 ($3,540)
  • 1960 Rome: €3,900 ($4,602)
  • 1968 Mexico City: €2,500 ($2,950)
  • 1972 Munich: €2,500 ($2,950)
  • 1980 Moscow: €3,800 ($4,484)
  • 2002 Salt Lake City: €2,200 ($2,596)

As the results show, there wasn’t any correlation between older torches and price. The torch from the 1960 Rome Summer Olympics was sold for the most amount of money, and the most recent Olympic torch sold for the least amount. 

The auction also featured another Olympic torch. The torch was from the 1948 London Summer Olympics, but that torch did not sell. Its listed price estimate was €6,000 – €8,000 ($7,080 – $9,440 USD).

The most expensive item listed was a winners medal from the 1920 Antwerp Summer Olympics. The item was listed from €16,000 – €20,000 ($18,880 – $23,600) but did not sell. The 1960 Rome torch ended up being the item sold for the most money overall in the whole auction. In total, 583 items were for sale and 210 of them sold. View the auction and its complete results here

Boston Auction featuring Olympic medal from the First Modern Olympic Games in 1896

The RR Auction out of Boston, MA featured 21 Olympic medals. Most notably, a winners medal from the first modern Games held in Greece in 1896 sold for $180,111. The selling price was much higher than the estimated $75,000. The medal sold for the most amount of money than any other item at the auction. A 2008 Beijing Gold Medal awarded to an Argentinian soccer player was the second most amount of money that an item sold for with a selling price of $97,270. This selling price was also much higher than its $30,000 estimate. A gold medal from the U.S. men’s basketball team at the 1984 Los Angeles Games was the third highest selling item. It sold for $83,188, but was much closer to its estimated $70,000.

In addition to medals, this auction also sold numerous Olympic torches. In total, 14 torches were sold and an additional 4 torch holders were sold. 

Torch selling price and Olympic Games:

  • 1980 Lake Placid: $38,250
  • 1976 Innsbruck: $25,124
  • 2020 Tokyo: $18,529
  • 1964 Tokyo: $8,268
  • 1984 Sarajevo: $5,000
  • 2012 London: $4,875
  • 1988 Seoul: $4,125
  • 1996 Atlanta: $3,126
  • 2002 Salt Lake City: $3,125
  • 2000 Sydney: $3,006
  • 2018 PyeongChang: $2,436
  • 2006 Torino: $2,250
  • 1980 Moscow: $1,880
  • 2010 Vancouver: $1,516

Interestingly, this auction for torches had a much larger range than the French auction. 3 torches went for much more money than others, and some of the torches went for much less money. 3 torch holders sold for $125 and another sold for $188. 

The complete auction featured 111 items. View the complete auction and its results here.

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