The Slatest

Russian Billionaire Who Bought James Watson’s Nobel Prize Medal Is Giving It Back to Him


Maxim Shemetov/Reuters

Last week an anonymous buyer purchased controversial DNA co-discoverer James Watson’s Nobel Prize medal for $4.1 million at auction. That buyer has now revealed himself as Alisher Usmanov, the richest man in Russia—and he says he’s going to give Watson his medal back. From Bloomberg:

“In my opinion, a situation in which an outstanding scientist sells a medal recognizing his achievements is unacceptable,” Usmanov said in the statement. “Dr. Watson’s work contributed to cancer research, the illness from which my father died. It is important for me that the money that I spent on this medal will go to supporting scientific research, and the medal will stay with the person who deserved it.”

Watson says he will give proceeds to a variety of research institutions and charities. He’s also said that he needs money and wants to regain the public’s attention after becoming something of a pariah because of his remarks about minorities and women.

Usmanov is worth an estimated $14.4 billlion. He founded the iron ore producer Metalloinvest and holds stakes in mobile phone company OAO MegaFon and the English soccer club Arsenal.