Russia's richest man Alisher Usmanov has bought James Watson's Nobel Prize award for 4.1 million US Dollars from the auction last week with the intention of giving it back to Watson.
Usmanov said, “In my opinion, a situation in which an outstanding scientist has to sell a medal recognizing his achievements is unacceptable. James Watson is one of the greatest biologists in the history of mankind and his award for the discovery of DNA structure must belong to him.”
Mr. Usmanov noted he also wanted to thank Watson for his discovery, which has helped further research into cancer, the disease that killed his own father.
James Watson, 86, shared the 1962 Nobel Prize for uncovering the double helix structure of DNA with two other scientists. He sparked an outcry in 2007 and stunned the scientific community when he suggested that people of African descent were inherently less intelligent than white people.
Watson later apologized but saw his income plummet, and he was forced to retire from the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory on Long Island, New York. Watson became the first living recipient of a Nobel medal to auction off the trophy.
Watson expressed his hope that the auction would help him "re-enter public life" and that he would donate part of the money to the research institutions that helped his research.