Lafayette's medal fetches more than 5 million at auction
A gold and enamel medal once belonged to the American Revolutionary hero the Marquis de Lafayette
NEW YORK, December 12, 2007 - A gold and enamel medal that once belonged to the American Revolutionary hero the Marquis de Lafayette was bought at Sotheby's auction here Tuesday for 5.26 million dollars by France's Fondation de Chambrun.
Sold by Lafayette's descendants, the medal was given to the Frenchman in 1824 by relatives of America's first president George Washington, when Lafayette was 67 years old. Its pre-sale estimate was between four and 10 million dollars.
"We are thrilled with the results. This is the highest price ever paid for a medal," said David Redden, Sotheby's vice-president.
The medal was sold for 5.264 million dollars -- including Sotheby's commission.
"There is the market. It's hard to know what moves people. And we never know how far the buyer would have gone if he had had another bidder in front of him," Redden added.
The one-inch (2.5 centimeters) diameter medal shows an eagle encircled by a laurel wreath will be exhibited at France's chateau de la Grange, of Gilbert du Motier, the current marquis de La Fayette, said New York art dealer Christophe Van de Weghe, who purchased the medal for the French private foundation.
The medal was awarded Lafayette a quarter-century after the death in 1799 of Washington, who as a general led US troops to victory in their battle for independence against Britain.
The American Revolution, which saw Britain's American colonies declare themselves a united, independent country, took place between 1775 and 1783.