by Brooke Kennedy
RR Auction’s semi-annual Olympics auction boasted a wide variety of memorabilia from every Olympiad. Olympic collectors could browse an array of torches and medals along with more unconventional offerings that include tickets, programs, and autographs.
The journey of the Olympic torch is one of the most memorable moments in the opening ceremony. It marks the beginning of a fierce competition as well as a showcase of athletic talent from around the globe.
This auction’s highest selling lot is one of the rarest torches ever made, and RR was thrilled with its realized price of $187,500. This torch was manufactured for the Grenoble 1968 Olympics, only just the 10th Winter Olympics ever held.
The 1968 Olympic torch began its long journey in Olympia, Greece, scaling Mount Olympus to make it to Athens. From there, the flame landed at the Paris-Orly airport in France, switching to the hands of gold medal winning distance runner and three-time silver medalist Alain Mimoun. In France alone, the torch traveled between 5,000 torchbearers over the course of 7,000 kilometers where it was finally handed off to Alain Calmat, the final torchbearer. Only 33 of these torches were produced for the Xth Winter Games, making this example extremely rare and highly coveted.
Collectors were also treated to other torch offerings such as the Albertville 1992 Olympic torch, but none were as imposing as the Lillehammer 1994 Olympic torch. Boasting a unique shape and impressive length of 60”, this piece beat out its $30,000 estimate with a final realized price of $37,500. Designed with Norwegian tradition in mind, the handle is made of birchwood while the aluminum blade symbolizes the country’s technological advancement.
Through the use of 350 torches and 6,916 torchbearers, the Olympic flame traveled for 27 days over 18,000 kilometers from Olympia, Greece to Lillehammer, Norway. Before Prince Haakon lit the Olympic cauldron at the opening ceremony, Stein Gruben performed a daring stunt – launching himself from the ski jump, with the torch in hand.
Perhaps there is no better example of an athlete’s hard work and perseverance than an Olympic medal. Hours of training and strict routines culminate in this career-defining milestone which is exemplified in these top-selling lots.
Awarded to legendary figure skater Alexander Zaitsev, this gold winner’s medal from the Lake Placid 1980 Olympics is a stellar example of the strides made by Zaitsev in his sport, and earned just shy of $100,000 for its consignor.
Along with his partner, Irina Rodnina, the duo represented the Soviet Union in the Pairs Figure Skating section of the 1980 games. From 1973 to 1980, the pair won every event they entered, making them the most decorated pair team of all time. The pair – according to their long list of accolades – are two-time Olympic champions, six-time world champions, and seven-time European champions. The 1980 Olympics also marked Zaitsev’s final Olympic appearance, enhancing this medal’s desirability.
Several historic medals exceeded their estimates for our consignors, including a Los Angeles 1932 gold winner’s medal and an Athens 2004 gold winner’s medal. But, this Athens 1896 Bronze winner’s medal proves to be our most intriguing medal of the group.
To Olympic historians, 1896 stands out as the year of the first ever modern Olympics. For this Olympiad, first place winners were awarded with silver medals, second place winners received these bronze medals, and third place finishers went home empty-handed. The traditional gold, silver, and bronze sequence would be introduced eight years later in 1904, making this medal an extremely scarce piece of memorabilia. RR Auction sold this example for a stellar amount for its consignor – earning a final price of $43,750.
Our latest auction is now open! This August, enter the world of tech with our Apple, Jobs, and Computer Hardware auction ending August 24th. There is also still time to consign with us for our future auctions including our monthly autograph auctions, our exclusive Prince event, and our JFK and presidential auction. Our team can take your call at 800-937-3880 or click our consign button below to partner with us!
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