Marathon cup from 1896 sets Olympics auction record

Wed Apr 18, 2012 11:32am EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - The silver cup given to the marathon winner at the first modern Olympic Games staged in Athens in 1896 sold for 541,250 pounds ($860,000) in London on Wednesday, breaking the auction record for Olympic memorabilia.

Breal's Silver Cup stands just six inches tall and was offered for sale at Christie's by the grandson of the victor, Greek athlete Spyros Louis.

Bearing the same name as his grandfather, Louis said the final price was beyond what he could have imagined.

"Deep down I hope that the cup remains in Greece, but no matter where it ends up, it will forever represent the glory of my country, and I have no doubt that the new owner will treasure it as we have done," he said after the sale.

He got his wish following what Christie's called a "heated" auction that involved six bidders.

The auctioneer later confirmed the buyer as the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, a grantmaking organization set up in 1996 that plans to build a major cultural centre in Athens where the Olympic cup will go on display from 2015.

In the interim a temporary home will be sought.

"Breal's Silver Cup will be shared with the public and serve as a reminder of our history, heritage and resilient spirit," said Andreas C. Dracopoulos, co-president of the foundation.   Continued...