Please recall in September when news came out that the gold medal of Mark Wells, a defenseman on Team USA's 1980" Miracle on Ice" hockey team, would be going up for auction. Recently, Wells had sold the medal to a Connecticut collector after he had fallen on hard times due to a genetic disease that attacked his spinal cord discs.
Tonight, Heritage Auctions handled the process and after 16 bids via phone and the Internet, the medal was sold for $310,700, which also includes a 19.5 percent buyer's premium. Bidding began at $25,000.
Verifying its authenticity, the medal comes with a letter from Wells that was given to the original purchaser:
"The gold medal symbolizes my personal accomplishments and our team's accomplishments being reached," wrote Wells. "As one of only 20 players to receive this gold medal, it has held a special place in my heart since February of 1980.
"When I decided recently to offer it out ... I also decided until the day I give it up, it will be worn. Therefore, I have slept with this medal for the past two weeks now in my home ... I hope you will cherish this medal as I have."
When we spoke with Phil Castinetti of Sportsworld,Inc., a Saugus, Mass. memorabilia store that was helping find a buyer for the medal two months ago, he predicted the sale price to be around $125,000 because of its scarcity being that there are only 20 authentic medals out there. A spare "Miracle" medal that was not handed out sold for close to $15,000 last spring, according to Classic Auctions.
The lasting legacy of the"Miracle on Ice" team has transcended sports given the tumultuous events of the world, specifically the United States, at that time. It's not surprising that the bidding approached half a million dollars given the combination of the meaning of that gold medal and the fact that it's the only one of 20 that's been available for sports memorabilia collectors.
When news about the medal came out in September, some were hoping that Wells could be reunited with the medal, while others wanted to see it displayed in either the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto or the United States Hockey Hall of Fame in Eveleth, Minn. alongside Mark Pavelich's, a teammate of Wells on the "Miracle" team. The winning bidder, according to Heritage Auctions, is a rancher from the Western United States who is a collector, but this was his first sports-related purchase.
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