New York, Dec 5 (IANS/EFE) Molecular biologist James D. Watson, the father of genetic science for his discovery of the structure of DNA, has auctioned the medal of his 1962 Nobel Prize for Medicine medal for $4.75 million at Christie’s here.
Watson, born in 1928 in Chicago, was presented with the award along with Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins for their studies on the DNA double-helix molecule, research that was fundamental for later genetic science, and the sale of the medal exceeded the most optimistic estimates, which had valued it at a maximum of $3.5 million.
By auctioning the medal Thursday, Watson became the first living scientist to do so.
The medal, made of 23-carat gold and 66 mm in diametre with the face of Alfred Nobel in relief, was accompanied by the velvet-lined box with Watson’s name on it.
The scientist said he would allocate the money to educational institutions.
The philanthropic move, The New York Times said, would be an act of “redemption” after Watson made controversial statements about genetics and race in 2007, when he said that whites are more intelligent than blacks.
Although he later regretted over his remarks, they resulted in his being fired from his position as head of the Cold Spring Harbour Laboratory on Long Island.
Thursday’s auction also included the written draft of Watson’s Nobel acceptance speech, which went for $365,000.
In addition, he auctioned off the lecture on his discovery that he offered in the days prior to the Nobel ceremony for $245,000.