Physicist Leon Lederman’s 1988 Nobel Prize was sold for $765,000 at an online auction conducted by Nate D. Sanders Auctions on Thursday. The medal, which is one of only 10 Nobel Prizes ever to be auctioned, was placed at a minimum bid of $325,000.
Auction manager Laura Yntema told NBC News that the winning bid was placed online, but did not reveal any details about the buyer. Lederman won the Nobel Prize in physics along with two other scientists -- Melvin Schwartz and Jack Steinberger -- for his role in the discovery of a subatomic particle called the muon neutrino in 1962. He found fame for coining the term “God Particle” for the subatomic Higgs-boson particle, which is believed to give mass to every other particle in the universe.
"The prize has been sitting on a shelf somewhere for the last 20 years," Lederman, 92, had told the Associated Press in a phone interview from his home in eastern Idaho ahead of the auction. "I made a decision to sell it. It seems like a logical thing to do."
The sale was reportedly organized by Lederman’s wife, Ellen Lederman, who entrusted the medal to the auction house in Los Angeles. The medal fetched the fourth-highest price among Nobel Prizes sold in 30 years, a spokesman for the auction reportedly said. Biologist James Watson’s 1962 gold medal, which was sold for $4.7 million to a Russian billionaire last year, holds the top spot.
Earlier this year, the auction house sold two other Nobel Prize medals. In February, it auctioned the Nobel Prize in Economics won by Simon Kuznets in 1971 for $390,848 and in April, it sold the Nobel Prize in Chemistry given to Heinrich Wieland in 1927 for $395,000.