Bob Beamon's Olympic Gold Medal Auctioned For $441,000

Bob Beamon's Olympic Gold Medal Auctioned For $441,000

Bob Beamon, who set the still-standing Olympic long jump record at the 1968 Games, has auctioned off the historic gold medal he won for $441,000.

Feb 1, 2024 by Joe Battaglia
Bob Beamon's Olympic Gold Medal Auctioned For $441,000

Bob Beamon, who set the still-standing Olympic long jump record at the 1968 Games, has auctioned off the historic gold medal he won in Mexico City over half a century ago.

The medal was auctioned this morning at Christie’s, the world's leading art and luxury auction house renowned for its live and online auctions. The winning bid in the auction was $350,000. A 26-percent buyer’s premium fee brought the final price to $441,000. 

Pre-auction, Christie’s experts had estimated the value of the medal between $400,000 and $600,000.

“It was really time to pass it on to an interested party, whether it is a museum or some other interested individual,” Beamon said. “I did a lot of research on what would be the best way of letting it go. It’s something that I worked hard for, to win first place at the Olympic Games. I’ve enjoyed it for 55 years. Let somebody else have the opportunity to have it in their home or wherever.”

Beamon, who said he did not have a target sale number in mind, did extensive research into the best avenues for bringing his gold medal to auction before settling on Christie’s. 

One of the determining factors in that decision was the auction house not including the medal in a traditional sports memorabilia auction but including it among a series of lots auctioned off as part of Christie's "Exceptional Sale," which brought in $6.8 million and included a painting by the Beatles.

“To me it was about let’s take it out of the bank vault and do something with it that may have some interest to people,” Beamon said. “As we talked it over and had long discussions for Christie’s I was happy that they took this on as a serious project.

“They treated me like a rock star.”

Beamon does not know who the winning bidder was but said, “I would love to meet them.”

On October 18, 1968 Beamon launched himself into track and field immortality when on his first attempt of the Olympic final he landed at 8.90m/29-2.5 inches. 

The jump broke the previous world record by 22 inches and was so far that it exceeded the capabilities of the electronic measuring device being used at the time. It took more than 15 minutes to get a posted measurement.

“I was between time and space,” Beamon said of the jump. “I was truly in another world. 

The mark stood as the world record for 23 years until it was surpassed by Mike Powell, who jumped 8.95m/29-4.25 at the 1991 World Championships in Tokyo, and still stands as the Olympic record. 

An economic value has now been placed on athletic history, there is no monetary figure that can be attributed to Beamon’s contributions to society beyond sport.


While the 77-year-old is synonymous with one of the greatest performances in track and field history, his place in the annals of the sport were almost sacrificed before the 1968 Olympics when he and 10 of his Black teammates at the University of Texas El-Paso were revoked of their scholarships after they boycotted a tri-meet against BYU and Utah State over the racist teachings of the Mormon Church.

Without his home base and support stripped just six months before the Olympics, Beamon continued to train undeterred. He moved from El Paso to Houston and trained with the Houston Striders track club. Ralph Boston, the 1960 Olympic champion and world record holder at time, helped coach him in an unofficial capacity.

“I lost my scholarship,” Beamon recalled in his book, Man Who Could Fly: The Bob Beamon Story, “but, damn it, I wasn’t going to lose my dream. I continued training for Mexico City. Being an Olympian was not going to be a dream deferred. Not for me.”

According to Guinness World Records, the most expensive Olympic medal sold at auction was one of the four gold medals won by Jesse Owens at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. The medal was purchased by Ron Burke for $1,466,574 on December 8, 2013.

Boxer Wladimir Klitschko of Ukraine auctioned his 1996 Olympic gold medal for boxing for $1 million in 2012 with the proceeds going to the Klitschko Brothers Foundation, which helps fund children’s sports camps and facilities.

In 2021, Bill Russel’s basketball gold medal from the 1956 Melbourne Olympics sold for $587,500.

A "Miracle on Ice" 1980 ice hockey gold medal awarded to Mark Wells sold for $310,700 in 2010, while a similar medal belonging to Mark Pavelich and engraved with his name went for $262,900 in 2013.

Beamon said that with this being the start of an Olympic year, he is hoping the auction of his medal not only adds to the excitement to the buildup to Paris but creates opportunities for other Olympic greats to receive compensation while sharing a memento of their accomplishment with a museum or track and field enthusiast of means.

“With the Olympics coming in five or so months, opening up the year and gearing up the world with excitement around those who are going to win the gold and then what is it worth down the road,” Beamon said. “Beyond the Olympic athletes that are going to be in Paris, there are also all those who have retired like the great Carl Lewis, or Usain Bolt and Mark Spitz and Michael Phelps. All these guys now, should take a different kind of look at what medals are really worth. 

“What is a person’s life worth or their achievements worth? There is no amount. But we do have some numbers that people can put toward the awards they have collected for those achievements. It does an incredible thing for the sport.”

Beamon, who will have owned the Olympic long jump record for 20,370 days when the Paris Olympics begin on July 26,said that he has no regrets.

“I don’t have my medal anymore, but it doesn’t stop me from always thinking and feeling and visualizing all of the things I did to get to that point and afterwards,” he said. “In my mind, I hope I will be here another 25 years with the love of knowing I won an Olympic gold medal and set the Olympic record. I hope it’s still going that long.”