Document that launched modern Olympics shatters estimates, sells for staggering $8.8M

The Olympic rings stand near the new National Stadium Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019, in Tokyo.
The Olympic rings stand near the new National Stadium Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019, in Tokyo.

A piece of sports history went up for auction on Wednesday with the expectation that it would fetch a massive sum of up to $1 million.

Instead of barely broaching the seven-figure mark, the original Olympic Games manifesto shattered estimates and sold for $8.8 million.

Lengthy bidding war

Auction house Sotheby’s announced the news that a 12-minute bidding war at its New York sales room saw the price soar to the staggering amount.

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Sotheby’s did not announce who the winning bidder was or who the competition was that drove up the price.

About the manifesto

The document was written by International Olympic Committee founder Pierre de Coubertin in 1892 and outlined the reasoning behind resurrecting the ancient Greek practice of Olympic competition.

The manifesto is a 14-page hand-written document of a speech that de Coubertin delivered at the Sorbonne University in Paris two years prior to establishing the IOC and four years prior to the inaugural modern Games held in Athens in 1896.

de Coubertin envisioned the Games as an avenue to promote peaceful competition between nations

“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, the manifesto reads.”

The auction price more than doubles the 2010 sales tally of James Naismith’s rules of basketball, which sold for $4 million.

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