Bréal’s Silver Cup, the winner’s cup from the first ever competitive Marathon race, held at the first Modern Olympic Games in Athens in 1896, broke the world record price for an item of Olympic memorabilia sold at auction, selling today within the Vintage Posters & Olympic Icons auction at Christie’s South Kensington for £541,250 / $861,129 / €655,454 (estimate: £120,000-160,000). Presented at auction for the first time, the unique cup, which stands at only six inches high (15 cm), was offered for sale by the grandson, and namesake of the famous Greek athlete who won it – Spyros Louis. It was bought by The Stavros Niarchos Foundation and will be shared with the Greek people by being permanently displayed for public view at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center upon its completion in 2015. In the interim, the Foundation will work to find a suitable and temporary location for display.
The auction as a whole realized a total of £1,260,275 / $2,005,098 / €1,524,933. Further Olympic highlights from the sale included a vintage poster advertising travel to the first London Olympics in 1908, which sold for £15,000; The Harold Abrahams Collection of memorabilia dating from 1911-1924, which sold for £39,650; and an Olympic Torch from the 1948 London Olympics, which sold for £6,250.
Nicolette Tomkinson, Director and Sophie Churcher, Specialist, Christie’s commented, “As the excitement builds with this year’s London Olympic Games drawing ever nearer, we are very proud to have held an event to celebrate the history and legacy of the Olympics! Christie’s is honoured to have been entrusted with the historic sale of Bréal’s Silver Cup, and we are delighted that its importance has clearly been recognized by collectors around the world, and that it will return to be on public display in Greece. It is hard to believe that such a small trophy represents so much in sporting and Olympic history. Since it was unveiled, it has attained universal appreciation, resulting in a total of six bidders competing for it today – two on the telephone, two in the room, two on the book. The cup was sold for £541,250 to The Stavros Niarchos Foundation via telephone. Until recently the Cup had been on Private display in the Louis family home for over a century, and we have taken great pleasure in acting as temporary custodians and telling the story behind this extraordinary object. I can’t think of a better way for Christie’s to have marked the start of the 100-day countdown to London 2012.”
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