You don't necessarily need to make a historic contribution to your field to own a Nobel Prize. If you're willing to settle for a medal that once belonged to someone else, all you need is a small fortune. As the Press-Republican reports, the 1994 prize in economic science (technically the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel), awarded to John Nash for his work on game theory, is estimated to sell for more than half a million dollars at auction.
Known to many as the subject of the Oscar-winning film A Beautiful Mind (2001), John Nash started making groundbreaking insights into economics at a young age. He began his doctoral studies at Princeton around age 20, and it was there he developed his famous Nash equilibrium and wrote his thesis on game theory. Nash has also become a symbol of mental illness in the scientific community: In the late 1950s, he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, and spent time in psychiatric hospitals.
Decades after Nash wrote his thesis on the subject, the Nobel Prize committee recognized his work on game theory, namely his introduction of the "distinction between cooperative games, in which binding agreements can be made, and non-cooperative games, where binding agreements are not feasible," as the Nobel press release put it. Christie's auction house is now selling Nash's 18-karat-gold medal in part to raise money for the John C.M. Nash Trust. In addition to the prize itself, the package going up for auction also includes the Nobel diploma; the letter from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences notifying Nash of his win; his nametag; his copy of Les Prix Nobel 1994; and his handwritten dimensions for the suit he wore to the ceremony. Christie's estimates the items will sell for between $500,000 and $800,000.
Along with his 1994 Nobel Prize, the auction house is selling a number of Nash-related items separately as part of its Fine Printed Books and Manuscripts sale. A handwritten lecture on game theory, his 1951 thesis, and a note from his high school trigonometry teacher encouraging Nash but telling him to organize his work will all be available to bid on.
Christie's auction will be held on October 25, and you can browse the items on sale now through the auction house's website.