Modern Olympic Manifesto Fetches $8.8 Million at Auction

Friday 20th December 2019 - Cara Bentham


Modern Olympic Manifesto Fetches $8.8 Million at Auction

Smashing its estimate of $1 Million, this manifesto outlining the foundation for the modern games is now the most expensive sports memorabilia ever sold at auction!


The original Olympic games manifesto, which outlines the foundation of the modern games, obliterated its high estimate of $1million when it went under the hammer at Sotheby’s in New York this week. Fetching a staggering $8.8million, it is now the most expensive piece of sports memorabilia ever sold at auction.

A 12-minute long bidding war saw the artefact climb in price, with three international bidders competing for the winning bid. The Olympic Manifesto dates back to 1892 and was penned by Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the International Olympic Committee. Advocating the resurrection of the ancient Greek games, the document came four years prior to the first modern Olympics held in Athens in 1896.

The document, which is fourteen pages long, sets out the reasons de Coubertin wanted to resurrect the Olympic games. He wrote that the games would be a way of facilitating peaceful competition between countries. The manifesto is based on a speech de Coubertin gave at the Sorbonne University in Paris, two years prior to the formation of the International Olympic Committee.

In the document, Coubertin states: "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."

According to NBC Sports, the historical artefact was missing for a period of time between the two world wars. It was tracked down in the 1990’s, in the possession of a collector in Switzerland, by Frenchman Marquis d’Amat.

In a statement, Sotheby’s senior specialist, Selby Kiffer, said “Today’s record result stands as a testament to Pierre de Coubertin’s vision of more than a century ago, and the reverence with which the Olympic games are still held”, adding that “this marks my highest price on the rostrum in more than three decades at Sotheby’s.”

The previous most expensive item of sports memorabilia was Babe Ruth’s New York Yankees jersey, which sold in June for $5.46million. Another notably high priced item was James Naismith’s Founding Rules of Basketball, which sold for over $4million back in 2010, demonstrating that historically significant items are extremely popular amongst sports collectors.