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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 4/14/2024

Presented in this lot is a museum-worthy artifact unbeknownst to even some of the most passionate Olympic collectors. In 1934, members of the International Olympic Committee met in Athens to discuss the 1936 Berlin Summer Games. There, Dr. Carl Diem, Secretary General of the Olympic Organizing Committee, proposed that a large gold chain be produced for each IOC member to wear at the upcoming Olympics – and all future Games thereafter – to identify and unify the elite dignitaries.

Sculptor Walter E. Lemcke used original Olympic relics (antique silver coins and bowls) from the ancient Greek Olympiads between 300 and 500 B.C. that were housed in the Old Museum in Berlin as his design influence. Cast completely in bronze and linked by a thick chain of rings are six medallion plaques each measuring 33 x 41 mm (clockwise from top right): horseman with relay torch; javelin thrower; discus thrower; athlete with jumping weights; runner bearing arms; and two wrestlers. The two lower plaques are linked by five colorfully enameled Olympic rings, which are attached to a large medallion (53 x 65 mm) with a depiction of the famous Head of Zeus stone sculpture in the Berlin State Museum. The reverse of the large medallion is engraved "XI. Olympiade Berlin 1936" at the top, purposely leaving space for many future Olympic legends to be added below. The reverse of the black Olympic ring is hallmarked “Skulp. W. E. Lemcke”. The chain measures approximately 31.5” and, if worn around the neck, this seemingly over-the-top status symbol hangs down almost to one’s belly.

These elaborate chains were the exclusive and permanent property of the Olympic Committee with the intention that they would be celebrated by onlookers and worn at future Olympics only by IOC members. In 1936, there were 69 IOC members including IOC President Baillet-Latour. As fate would have it, something happened to this collection of IOC chains after 1936 Berlin Summer Games. They were believed to have been stored in Berlin, but at some point, they all mysteriously disappeared. The 1940 Helsinki Summer Games ended up getting canceled due to World War II – specifically, the Soviet invasion of Helsinki in March 1940 – and the Russians were inevitably blamed for the alleged theft. Thus, the last time these chains were part of any Olympics was the 1936 Berlin Games.

Needless to say, we have neither seen nor heard of this nearly extinct piece of Olympic memorabilia before our consignor, one of the world’s top Olympic connoisseurs, brought it to our attention. The chain remains in terrific overall condition, with just a few tiny areas of the black enamel having worn off.

For more information: https://www.olympic-museum.de/prizes/1936chain/chain_1936.php; 1936 Berlin Olympics Official Report, pages 126-127; Olympic Games News Service No. 33

This lot has a Reserve Price that has not been met.
Current Bidding (Reserve Not Met)
Minimum Bid: $5,000
Final prices include buyers premium.:
Number Bids:5
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