NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A Nobel Prize medal sold at auction is heading home to Long Island next week.
The winning bidder is returning the medal to the man who earned it — for one of the greatest scientific discoveries, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reports.
Dr. James Watson’s office at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory is filled with mementos of his world changing breakthrough.
Watson, with Francis Crick , discovered the structure of DNA: A double helix — the building block of life.
But the greatest keepsake — his 1962 Nobel Prize medal — isn’t there.
“I thought why shouldn’t I have the fun of giving away my money while I’m alive instead of in my will,” Watson said.
Instead of keeping the gold medal locked away, Dr. Watson recently sold it at auction to generate millions of dollars he could give away to science research and local causes.
But in a twist, the winning billionaire buyer, who paid more than $4 million for the Nobel medal is returning it to Watson.
“James Watson is one of the greatest biologists in the history of mankind, and his award for the discovery of DNA structure must belong to him,” said Alisher Usmanov of Russia.
Watson’s science community is overjoyed to see the prize returned.
So now he gets the medal back — and local causes get local donations.
At 87-years-old, Watson hopes his donations will help fulfill his next goal — the cure for cancer. The pioneer of genetics says “giving” is in our DNA.
“This need that humans have to help each other,” Watson said. “It’s the most important human quality that we help each other when we are in trouble.”
Dr. Watson leaves for Russia this weekend to meet the man who bought his Nobel medal only to give it back.
Once returned it will be held at the Watson collection in the laboratory’s archives at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories.
Between working toward a cure for cancer and schizophrenia, Dr. Watson plays singles tennis several times a week.