On the night of Monday, June 20, 2022, Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov’s Nobel Peace Prize sold at auction for $103.5 million, all of which was donated to UNICEF to aid child refugees in Ukraine.

Ukrainian Refugee Crisis

As of July 2022, more than 5.6 million refugees from Ukraine have been recorded across Europe as a result of the ongoing war, with 8.7 million recorded border crossings. With nearly half a million children in Ukraine, UNICEF worries about the effects of living in a war-torn area.

In response to the conflict, UNICEF has ramped up its humanitarian aid to the region. In a statement following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, UNICEF Executive Director Catherine M. Russell said, “heavy weapons fire along the line of contact has already damaged critical water infrastructure and education facilities in recent days. Unless the fighting subsides, tens of thousands of families could face displacement, dramatically escalating humanitarian needs.”

UNICEF’s response focuses on providing health, hygiene and emergency education supplies. It is also getting safe water to areas in conflict, assisting children separated from families and working to ensure there is help for children and families. It has additionally established a fund to assist child refugees in Ukraine.

Dmitry Muratov’s Nobel Peace Prize

Muratov received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2021 for his work toward journalistic freedom and safeguarding democracy. After the fall of the Soviet Union, Muratov founded a newspaper, the Novaya Gazeta. The newspaper advocated for freedom of press and expression in Russia.

The Novaya Gazeta is critical of Russian officials and does not shy away from exposing corruption within the Russian government. Six of the Gazeta’s journalists lost their lives for their journalistic work on Russian military operations.

Muratov is no stranger to taking on Russian imperialism and has used his place as editor-in-chief to be critical of the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014.

The Auction

According to NPR, Muratov conducted the auction through Heritage Auctions and opened bidding online on June 1, 2022, with all proceeds set to go to UNICEF’s Ukraine child refugee fund. In-person bidding occurred on Monday, June 20.

By Monday morning, the ending day of the auction, the online bid had only reached $550,000. The auction increased in increments initially. Then, suddenly, the highest bid jumped from $16.6 million to the winning $103.5 million from an anonymous caller, NPR reports.

This is blowing away the previous highest bid for a Nobel Prize of $4.76 million. In response to the results of the auction, Muratov stated in an interview with the Associated Press, “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.” All of the funds are already in UNICEF’s possession.

Muratov is a lifelong advocate for freedom and a critic of Russian expansionism. This auction is his latest act of generosity and advocacy, resulting in $103.5 million for child refugees in Ukraine.

– Eleanor Corbin
Photo: Wikicommons