Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov will auction off his Nobel Peace Prize medal Monday night to support UNICEF’s efforts to help children displaced by Russia’s war on Ukraine.
Muratov was awarded the prestigious medal in October 2021. He shared the award with journalist Maria Ressa of the Philippines.
He helped found the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta and was the editor-in-chief before it was forced to shut down operations in March upon the Russian government prohibiting media and public dissent amid the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
Muratov, who had already revealed he was donating the prize’s accompanying $500,000 award to charity, decided to auction off his medal. He said the motivation behind the sale “is to give the children refugees a chance for a future.”
The Russian journalist told The Associated Press he was especially concerned about children who have lost their parents because of the war.
“We want to return their future,” he said.
He also emphasized the importance that international sanctions against Russia do not stop people from receiving humanitarian aid like medicine for rare diseases and bone marrow transplants.
Muratov and Ressa each received their own medals and were honored for their efforts to preserve free speech in their home countries despite receiving attacks for their actions, including from their own governments.
“It has to become a beginning of a flash mob as an example to follow so people auction their valuable possessions to help Ukrainians,” Muratov said in a video published by Heritage Auctions, which is handling the sale.
Muratov has criticized Russia’s war against Ukraine, which began in February, and his country’s 2014 annexation of Crimea. Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine has displaced nearly 5 million Ukrainians from their homes.
He said in April that he was attacked with red paint while riding on a Russian train.
The journalist on Thursday began his trip to New York City, where live bidding will start Monday afternoon.
Online bids began June 1 to coincide with International Children’s Day observance and Monday’s live bidding will take place on World Refugee Day.
The high bid for the medal was $550,000 as of early Monday morning, though the purchase price is expected to be much higher.
The most ever paid for a Nobel Prize medal was James Watson sold his prize in 2014. Watson earned the award in 1962 after he co-discovered the structure of DNA. He sold his medal for $4.76 million. The family of his co-recipient, Francis Crick, sold for $2.27 million three years later.
There have been nearly 1,000 Nobel Peace Prize recipients since its inception in 1901, honoring achievements in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature and the advancement of peace.
Melted down, the 175 grams of 23-karat gold in Muratov’s medal would be worth about $10,000.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.