by Brooke Kennedy
With the 2024 Olympics on its way to the city of Paris, RR Auction’s Olympic Memorabilia event was the perfect way to celebrate. Beyond a section dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the Paris 1924 Games, our loyal consignors provided our bidders a host of winner’s medals, torches, badges, and much more.
An original Athens 1896 winner’s medal is a perfect fit for RR’s top seller for this auction – realizing a price of $111,960 for its consignor.
Though the origin of the Olympics can be traced back to 776 B.C., the introduction of the modern Games was the debut of the great events we celebrate today. Returning to their country of origin, the Athens 1896 Olympics saw ten nations compete along with a mixed team of athletes from different countries. At this time, the system of medals was different from today’s structure of gold, silver, and bronze (it wouldn’t be until 1904 that the traditional sequence was introduced). First-place winners were instead awarded silver medals with those placing in second receiving bronze. Third place winners unfortunately went home with nothing.
Original first place medals from the debut Olympiad are exceedingly scarce, and this example is just the third offered at RR Auction.
The London 2012 Games were not the first Olympics for Roniel Iglesias. A few years prior Iglesias competed in 2008 Beijing Summer Games, securing himself a bronze in the light welterweight class. When he returned to the ring for the London 2012 Olympics, he shattered expectations and earned a gold for his nation of Cuba. The medal – featuring the winged Nike over the Grecian Panathinaikos Stadium – earned its consignor a final selling price of $83,188. Included in this lot was the medal’s original black case and a letter of provenance from Iglesias.
Iglesias would go on to earn a second gold medal when he returned to the Olympics for the Tokyo 2020 Games again at welterweight when he out-pointed British boxer Pat McCormack by a score of 5-0. With his tremendous skill, he has earned his reputation as one of Cuba’s greatest boxers.
Lake Placid 1980
The Olympics opening ceremony has remained a staple of the Games since their origins in ancient Greece. It represents the official beginning of each Olympiad, and the journey to light the cauldron is a celebration in itself. This was no different for the Lake Placid Games in 1980.
The ceremony to light the cauldron for the 1980 Games took the Olympic flame from Greece overseas to the United States. In designing the American leg of the relay, it was made to retrace the American Revolution Bicentennial Trail, and covered a distance of 1,600 km. After being lit in Olympia on January 30, the flame traveled by air to Athens before taking off again for Langley, Virginia. 52 torchbearers participated and the Olympic cauldron was kindled at Lake Placid on February 8th, marking the official start of the Games. Used in the relay preceding the ‘Miracle on Ice,’ one of these torches sold for a remarkable $56,250.
The 1980 Lake Placid torch remains scarce and highly sought-after, as only 140 were manufactured.
Our consignors crossed the finish line to make RR’s first semi-annual Olympics auction a triumphant victory, and we have more auctions coming! Looking to sell your ultra-rare pieces? We are currently accepting items for our upcoming Space and Aviation, Steve Jobs and Apple, and Marvels of Modern Music events. You can also consign your items for our second Olympics event set for July. Click the button below to our submission below for a free auction appraisal or contact our team at 800-937-3880.
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