What Is a Nobel Prize Medal Really Worth?

What do Albert Einstein, Martin Luther King, Jr., Mother Theresa and President Barack Obama all have in common? They’re all Nobel Prize recipients. But what is a medal from one of these world-changing individuals really worth? Well, a lot more than its weight in gold.

The medals are made of an 18-carat, green-colored gold core, plated with 24 carat gold. At over six ounces, the value for just the gold in this medal puts it at almost $8,000. But the price of gold plays a small role in the true value. Factors such as the prize category, and most of all, the recipient, have the biggest influence on the value of these medals.

There are five Nobel Prize categories, and each category varies in value: peace, literature, physics, physiology and economics. The Nobel Peace Prize might be the most recognizable of all the categories, and is generally worth more. But categories alone won’t determine the value of medals.

The most important factor in a Nobel Prize’s value is the notoriety and accomplishments of the recipient. Last March, the first Nobel Prize ever sold in the US found a buyer. Francis Crick discovered the structure of DNA, and sold his physiology and medicine medal for about $2 million, all of which went to fund important medical research. While discovering the double helix is no small feat, it’s safe to assume a more famous name could probably fetch even more. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s family has expressed interest in selling his medal recently, and if it sells it’s speculated to sell for well over $2 million.

The 2014 Nobel Peace Prize went to another notable recipient: the world’s youngest ever winner in any category, seventeen-year-old Malala Yousafzai won for her work as a Pakistani activist for female education. Like many of the other recipients, this could one day be an extremely valuable medal.

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