James Watson to auction his Nobel Prize for discovering double helix structure of DNA

The money would go to the institutions where he studied and worked

By Priyanka Singh
Published: Friday 28 November 2014

James Watson received the Nobel Prize in 1962 (Photo by Steve Jurvetson | Flickr)James D Watson will be the first living person to ever sell his Nobel Prize. He was one of three scientists who discovered the double helix structure of DNA. 

Christie's New York announced  that it will put the Nobel Prize up for auction on December 4. The auction aims to fetch somewhere around $2.5 to $3.5 million.

Watson made the discovery in 1953 with Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins. They were jointly awarded the 1962 Nobel Prize in Medicine for identifying double helix DNA. The discovery revolutionized medicine and was the basis for the new science of molecular biology.

Watson said part of the proceeds would go to the institutions where he studied and worked. “I look forward to making further philanthropic gifts to Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, the University of Chicago, and Clare College Cambridge, so I can continue to do my part in keeping the academic world an environment where great ideas and decency prevail. I also intend to direct funds to the Long Island Land Trust and other local charities I have long supported,” he said in the news release.

Included in the auction are Watson’s own handwritten notes for his acceptance speech at the December 10, 1962  banquet ceremony in Stockholm which are expected to fetch around  $300,000 to $400,000, and his manuscript and corrected drafts for his Nobel Lecture he delivered the following day are expected to be sold at $200,000 to $300,000. Crick's Nobel Prize was auctioned off last year for $2.27 million.

Watson, now 85, was born in 1928 in Chicago.

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