On Saturday night, Carl Ludwig Hermann “Luz” Long’s men’s long jump silver medal from the 1936 Berlin Olympics sold for $488,435 with SCP Auctions — making the German’s the most valuable silver medal ever sold at public auction. Long was killed in 1943 while serving in the German army.
Long and American Jesse Owens’ friendship, forged at the Berlin Olympics, is one of sport’s most enduring images. As Jeremy Schaap recently wrote, the Third Reich turned the 1936 Olympics into “a pageant of German might.” After Owens set an Olympic men’s long jump record, Long embraced Owens before walking arm-in-arm in front of a crowd of 110,000 — including Adolf Hitler.
“It took a lot of courage for him to befriend me in front of Hitler,” Owens said afterward. “You can melt down all the medals and cups I have and they wouldn’t be a plating on the 24-karat friendship that I felt for Luz Long at that moment.”
The most expensive Olympic medal ever sold, unsurprisingly, is one of four Jesse Owens golds from the same Olympics. In 2013, an Owens gold sold for $1,466,574, also via SCP Auctions — a record for a gold medal and a then-record for piece of Olympic memorabilia. (The record for an item of Olympic memorabilia now belongs to the original Olympic Manifesto, sold by Sotheby’s in late 2019 for $8.8 million.)
Per David Kohler, president and CEO of SCP Auctions, the previous record-high sale for a silver medal was “under $100,000.”