Jesse Owens was an Olympic gold medalist sprinter, whose win at the 1936 Berlin Olympics delivered a slap in the face to Adolph Hitler. One of Owens' four gold medals from that event was sold at auction last weekend for $1.47 million.
The medal was purchased by California billionaire Ron Burkle, co-owner of the National Hockey League’s Pittsburgh Penguins. It was sold by SCP auctions of Laguna Niguel, California, who also sold nearly $4.5 million dollars worth of other sports memorabilia at the sale.
The medal had been given by Owens to dancer and movie star Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, for helping him find work in the entertainment field after he returned from Berlin. The medal was sold at the auction by the estate of Robinson's late widow, Elaine Plaines-Robinson. SCP Auctions Vice President Dan Imler said the Owens family confirmed the medal is original; the whereabouts of the other three is unknown.
Ron Burkle, who lives in Los Angeles, and who also owns William Faulkner's Nobel Prize for literature, has plans for an educational tour of the historic pieces. The billionaire investor's holdings include retail, food and entertainment companies.
The $1,466,574 paid for this medal is the highest price ever paid for a piece of Olympic memorabilia.