The manifesto for the original Olympics sold for a whopping $8.8 million at an auction on Wednesday in New York. The historic artifact was expected to sell for between $700,000 and $1 million, but ended up in the hands of a bidder for over eight times the high end of that already steep price, according to Sotheby's, which hosted the auction. It is the highest price ever paid for a piece of sports memorabilia, breaking the previous record set by a Babe Ruth New York Yankees jersey that sold for $5.4 million.
The document dates back to 1892 and was written by Pierre de Coubertin, the International Olympic Committee founder.
#AuctionUpdate Moments ago in our #NYC salesroom, the original Olympic Games manifesto soared to $8.8 million, more than 8.5x its $1 million high estimate following a 12-minute bidding battle. The manifesto outlines Pierre de Coubertin's vision for reviving the ancient games. pic.twitter.com/xoR4uAzs2t— Sotheby's (@Sothebys) December 18, 2019
The price skyrocketed as those present at the auction in New York participated in a lengthy 12-minute bidding war. Sotheby's has not announced who the bidders were or who eventually went home with the documents.
The 14-page hand-written document highlights why de Coubertin wanted to bring the Ancient Greek tradition of Olympic competition back. He wrote that he wanted the games to be a way to provide peaceful competition between countries.
Here's part of what de Coubertin wrote, via NBC Sports:
"Let us export rowers, runners and fencers; this is the free trade of the future, and the day that it is introduced into the everyday existence of old Europe, the cause of peace will receive new and powerful support."
It is a written report of the speech de Coubertin gave at the Sorbonne University in Paris. The speech came two years before the International Olympic Committee was formed and four years before the 1896 inaugural modern Games took place in Athens.
According to NBC Sports, the piece of history went missing for quite some time between both world wars. Frenchman Marquis d'Amat went searching for it in the 1990s and eventually located it from a collector in Switzerland.