Jesse Owens Medal Sold to Billionaire Burkle for $1.5 Million

U.S. sprinter Jesse Owens
U.S. sprinter Jesse Owens won four gold medals at the 1936 games in Berlin, infuriating Nazis and their leader Adolf Hitler. Photographer: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Dec. 9 (Bloomberg) -- Billionaire investor Ron Burkle bought a gold medal won by U.S. sprinter Jesse Owens for $1.47 million at auction, a record for an item of Olympic Games memorabilia.

Owens won four gold medals at the 1936 games in Berlin, infuriating Nazis and their leader Adolf Hitler.

The price beats the $865,000 paid last year for a silver cup won at the 1896 Olympics, according to Laguna Niguel, California-based SCP Auctions, which sold the medal last weekend.

The previous highest price for a U.S. Olympic item was $657,250 for the “Miracle on Ice” hockey jersey won by team captain Mike Eruzione in 1980.

Los Angeles-based Burkle is co-owner of the National Hockey League’s Pittsburgh Penguins.

Burkle, who also owns William Faulkner’s 1949 Nobel Prize for Literature, plans an educational tour with the historic items, according to SCP Auctions.

SCP said it raised almost $4.5 million from 1,000 sports memorabilia items at the auction.

Among other articles was a baseball bat used by Jackie Robinson in 1949 that sold for $183,500.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Duff in Madrid at aduff4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at celser@bloomberg.net