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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 10/16/2022

The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph, but the struggle.” - Olympic Creed

At the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games, Jesse Owens earned all the major headlines around the globe with his record four gold medals for Team USA. History books will forever celebrate the athletic dominance of an African American who achieved perfection in front of the most notorious dictator ever known. If not for a notable assist from the most unlikely of sources, however, one of those gold medals would not have been possible. To truly appreciate Owens’ incredible performance, the story cannot be told without Luz Long, the most courageous sportsman in Olympic history.

Born months apart in 1913 on opposite hemispheres, their ethnic backgrounds and upbringings could not be more different – one of privilege and opportunity; the other of poverty and oppression. The likelihood of these two ever crossing paths, let alone becoming friends, was simply unfathomable. That’s the power of sport. It makes the impossible possible. Twenty-three years later, the lives of these two extraordinary men converged on the world’s biggest stage to produce a magical moment that will inspire the human race for centuries to come.

Carl Ludwig “Luz” Long was born on April 27, 1913, in Leipzig, Germany, and grew up comfortably in a distinguished city known for its famous opera house. Well-educated with an intense passion for athletics, Luz especially excelled in the field events. At the University of Leipzig, he steadily improved to become one of Germany’s top performers in both the broad [long] jump and triple jump. In 1933, he won Germany’s National Championship title in the long jump and took third at the 1934 European Championships in Turin, Italy. In 1936, one month before the Olympics, Long set a new European long jump record of 7.82 meters (25 feet, 8 inches).

By that point the “Buckeye Bullet” had already established himself as the world’s biggest name in track and field, setting four world records in a span of 45 minutes at the 1935 Big Ten Championships for Ohio State. So, there they were on August 4, 1936, in front of Adolf Hitler and a packed Olympic Stadium in Berlin, a superstar black American holding the world long jump record (which stood for 25 years) against a white German ranked #1 in all of Europe.

After two failed jumps in the trials, though, Jesse Owens was somehow faced with the possibility of not even making the final round and completely missing the podium. He was down to his last qualifying attempt and the pressure was on. It was at that critical moment that Luz Long approached his dark-skinned adversary, introduced himself, and offered a piece of advice.

Why don’t you draw a line a few inches in back of the board and aim at making your take-off from there," Luz advised. "You’ll be sure not to foul, and you certainly ought to jump far enough to qualify. What does it matter if you’re not first in the trials?

As Owens recalled, “Suddenly all the tension seemed to ebb out of my body as the truth of what he said hit me. Confidently, I drew a line a full foot in back of the board and proceeded to jump from there. I qualified with almost a foot to spare.”

The final round was a back-and-forth battle between Owens and Long as each jumper surpassed the previous Olympic record of 7.765 meters (25 feet, 5-3/4 inches). Long tied Owens on his penultimate attempt with a personal best of 7.87 meters, but Owens jumped 7.94 and 8.06 meters (26' 5-1/3") on his last two jumps to officially set a new Olympic record and overtake his German opponent for gold. After Jesse’s final jump, Luz was the first to congratulate and embrace Owens at the pit. “You forced me to give my best,” exclaimed Jesse to his newfound friend as they walked down the runway side-by-side (see 28:15 of video at end). Following the medal ceremony, the two did a victory lap together around the track, arm-in-arm, black and white, posing for photographers in front of 110,000 spectators.

It took a lot of courage for him to befriend me in front of Hitler,” Owens would say later. “You can melt down all the medals and cups I have and they wouldn’t be a plating on the twenty-four karat friendship that I felt for Luz Long at that moment.”

When Long befriended Owens that day, he personified the core idealism of the Olympic Creed instituted by IOC Founder Pierre de Coubertin. He showed how sport transcends discrimination and nationalistic divides and has the power to unite people from even the most diverse backgrounds. Luz Long was a “beacon of hope” against everything the Third Reich stood for. In one mystical moment, he became the most courageous sportsperson in Olympic history. Of all those to best capture the spirit of what it means to be an Olympian, of all those to look beyond color in a setting ripe with racism and antisemitism, it was a blond-haired, blue-eyed German. No matter how dangerous the political climate would be in the aftermath for defying his regime’s principles, Long's courageous humanity and deeply sportsmanlike mentality drove him to help the best man win.

While Jesse and Luz would never see each other again – in 1943 Luz was killed in WWII at the age of 30 – their remarkable friendship formed over one special day of competition lives on through future generations of Owens and Long descendants. In 1951, Owens met Luz’s son Kai in Hamburg, Germany, during Jesse's European tour with the Harlem Globetrotters. In 1964, Owens returned to Berlin Stadium for the filming of Jesse Owens Returns to Berlin (scroll down to watch it), walking the same long jump runway with Kai, telling his dad's inspirational story and even recreating their famous lawn pose that has become so recognizable in photos (see front and back covers of print catalog for the original and recreation). Jesse's wife Ruth and daughters Marlene, Beverly and Gloria, along with grandchildren Marlene, Gina and Stuart stayed connected with Kai Long, Kai's wife Ragna and Luz's granddaughter Julia-Vanessa for the ensuing decades, crossing paths at honorary milestone events and renewing each family's unique bond. The living relatives continue to communicate from afar, keeping Jesse and Luz's special friendship alive.

In February 2021, Dr. Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee, honored Luz Long with the highest IOC award given out: the IOC President's Trophy for Luz's civil courage, fair play and humanity. The award also pays tribute to how the Long family has so eloquently celebrated Luz's legacy and spread his inspiring message to the world. It was then that Long family decided the time had come to part with the hundreds of medals, documents, photos and other Luz Long family heirlooms so that collectors, historians and fans of this great man could own a piece for themselves.

SCP Auctions is honored to present the Luz Long Collection to the global marketplace. The centerpiece of the 32 lots is Luz's silver winner’s medal in Men’s Long Jump featured here. Symbolizing the essence of sportsmanship in every sense of the word, it stands as one of the most important, if not the most inspiring, Olympic artifacts ever offered. A total of 320 silver medals were made for athletes at the ’36 Berlin Games (same number of gold and bronze). Designed by Giuseppe Cassioli of Italy, it measures 55 mm in diameter and 3 mm thick and weighs 75 grams. The obverse features Nike, goddess of victory, seated above Olympic stadium holding a winner's crown and palm branch with "XI. OLYMPIADE BERLIN 1936" scripted. The reverse shows a winner carried by jubilant athletes. The minter “B.H. Mayer Pforzheim” and 99% silver hallmark (“990”) are engraved on the bottom edge. Very well-preserved in both color and texture, Luz’s medal comes in VF/EF condition with a few light marks from handling.

In 2013, we [SCP] sold one of Jesse Owens’ four 1936 Olympic gold medals for $1.466 million – still a record for an Olympic medal. In today's market, that medal is likely worth $5 million or more. Luz’s medal is estimated at $500,000 to $1 million, but the sky is the limit for this one-of-a-kind, museum-worthy relic. It comes with a letter of provenance from the Long family. Also included is a letter of authenticity from Olympic collectibles and numismatics expert Ingrid O'Neil.

Luz Longs Important 1936 Berlin Olympic Games Silver Winners Medal for Mens Long Jump - The Most Courageous Sportsman in Olympic History!
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Minimum Bid: $50,000
Final prices include buyers premium.: $488,435
Number Bids:20
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