Buyer of Watson Nobel Giving It Back to Him

Russia's richest man says scientist deserves to have it
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 9, 2014 10:20 PM CST
Updated Dec 10, 2014 1:00 AM CST
Buyer of Watson Nobel Giving It Back to Him
Russian billionaire tycoon Alisher Usmanov is seen his Moscow office.   (AP Photo/ File)

Russia's richest man says he was the winning bidder for James Watson's 1962 Nobel Prize at an auction last week—and he's going to give it back to the scientist. Watson "is one of the greatest biologists in the history of mankind, and his award for the discovery of DNA structure must belong to him," says Alisher Usmanov, who paid $4.1 million for the medal at the Christie's auction, reports the New York Times. Usmanov, who has a fortune estimated at $15.8 billion, says "a situation in which an outstanding scientist has to sell a medal recognizing his achievements is unacceptable."

The medal was the first to be put on sale by a living recipient, the BBC reports, and while Watson, 86, said he had no other income when he put it up for sale, he planned to donate most of the proceeds to charity. He said one of his motivations for selling the medal was to try to restore a reputation ruined by racist remarks he made in 2007, which he later apologized for. Usmanov says that because his father died of cancer, he especially values Watson's contributions to cancer research. "It is important for me that the money that I spent on this medal will go to supporting scientific research," he says, "and the medal will stay with the person who deserved it." (More James Watson stories.)

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