TSX BULLETIN: Bob Beamon’s 1968 Olympic long jump gold up for auction on 1 February

Bob Beamon's 1968 Olympic long jump gold medal will be auctioned on 1 February at Christie's New York. (Photo: Christie's)

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Bob Beamon’s astonishing world-record long jump of 8.90 m (29-2 1/2) at the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games is one of the world’s iconic individual performances in sport.

A medal favorite, Beamon qualified second to fellow American Ralph Boston, the 1960 Olympic Champion, who set an Olympic Record of 8.27 m (27-1 3/4), with Beamon at 8.19 m (26-10 1/2).

In the final – 18 October 1968 – Beamon was fourth in the order and after the first three jumpers all fouled, Beamon unleashed a mammoth jump that was so far, the optical measuring device installed for the Games could not be used. The jump was manually measured and was posted at 8.90 m, which Beamon did not immediately understand. When told by Boston that he had jumped 29-2 1/2, Beamon collapsed in astonishment.

At the start of the day, the world record had been 8.35 m (27–4 3/4) by Boston (1965) and Soviet Igor Ter-Ovanesyan, in Mexico City in 1967. Beamon crushed that mark and the competition was over. He did jump in the second round, reaching 8.04 m (26-4 1/2) and then retired.

It took 23 years for his mark to be surpassed, with Mike Powell of the U.S. winning an epic duel with Carl Lewis at the 1991 IAAF World Championships in Tokyo, reaching 8.95 m (29-4 1/2) to win.

Beamon, now 77, worked with youth in sports for many years in Miami and in art and music and is now selling that 1968 Olympic gold in a 1 February auction by Christie’s in New York City.

Called The Exceptional Sale, the 40-lot program includes iconic furniture, tapestries and works of art, plus Beamon’s gold medal, an Elvis Presley guitar and a gold vest owned by Janis Joplin.

The Christie’s estimate is that the medal could bring from $400-600,000, which would be one of the highest prices ever paid for an Olympic medal.

Olympic writer and board member of the multi-national Olympin Collectors Club Karen Rosen (USA) notes that the two highest prices known to have been paid for Olympic medals are both for Berlin 1936 gold medals won by American sprint icon Jesse Owens.

An Owens gold sold for an all-time record of $1,466,574 on 8 December 2013, and a second Owens gold went for $615,000 on 7 December 2019.

The Beamon ‘68 gold will be sold in a live auction by Christie’s on 1 February, beginning at 10 a.m. Eastern time. It’s lot no. 11.

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