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Olympic Trophy From First Marathon Fetches $867,000

Olympic Silver Cup
The Breals Silver Cup, presented to Spyros Louis, the winner of the Marathon at the inaugural 1896 Athens Olympic Games. It was sold by Christie's International in an auction of vintage posters and Olympics memorabilia in London on April 18. The cup fetched a record 541,250 pounds ($868,000). Source: Christie's Images Ltd. 2012 via Bloomberg.  

The cup awarded to the Greek winner of the first competitive marathon at the inaugural modern Olympic Games sold for a record 541,250 pounds ($867,000) today, outstripping estimates of 120,000 pounds to 160,000 pounds.

The Breal’s Silver Cup was originally presented to runner Spyros Louis at the Games held in Athens from April 6-15, 1896. Louis, a water carrier, is reputed to have sipped cognac on his way around the track in the Panathinaiko Stadium.

“Our family has been very proud to have the honor of looking after this important historical sporting trophy for the last 116 years,” his grandson, also named Spyros Louis, said in a press release e-mailed by Christie’s International.

The trophy was bought by the Eleusina, Greece-based Stavros Niarchos Foundation. The price set a record for Olympics memorabilia at auction, beating the previous high of 290,000 euros ($380,000) paid for a 1952 Helsinki torch.

Today’s sale of Olympics memorabilia and vintage posters raised a total of more than 1.26 million pounds, including the premium.

(Richard Vines writes for Muse, the arts and culture section of Bloomberg News. Opinions expressed are his own.)

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