Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov has auctioned off his Nobel Peace Prize medal for $103.5 million to help children refugees fleeing their war-plagued home of Ukraine.

Muratov, the editor in chief of Russian independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta, was given the honor in October 2021 before the paper was forced to close by Russian President Vladimir Putin amid a clamp down on journalists. He said he was shocked when the sale of his 23-karat gold medal was finalized in New York on Monday.

“I was hoping that there was going to be an enormous amount of solidarity, but I was not expecting this to be such a huge amount,” Muratov said in an interview at the end of a nearly 3-week auction.

Muratov shared the Nobel Peace Prize with with journalist Maria Ressa who co-founded the online news site Rappler in the Philippines. Both are well-known for their fights to maintain freedom of speech in their respective countries, as well as publishing investigations aimed at taking a down corruption .

The Russian journalist was critical Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and has been similarly outspoken about the nation’s invasion of Ukraine.

It’s not clear who purchased Murtov’s medal, but a spokesperson for Heritage Auctions, which handled the sale, said the winning bid was made by proxy. They added that the $103.5 million sale translates to $100 million Swiss francs, suggesting that the winner is from overseas.

Melted down, the 175 grams of 23-karat gold contained in Muratov’s medal would be worth about $10,000.

All of the proceeds will go toward UNICEF’s efforts to help children displaced by the war in Ukraine. The nonprofit on Monday confirmed it had already received the funds.

The sale also shattered the record for most ever paid for a Nobel Prize medal. The previous record stood at $4.76 million, after James Watson, whose co-discovery of the structure of DNA earned him a Nobel Prize in 1962, sold his in 2014.

With New Wire Services

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