BOSTON – A rare official 1968 Mexico City Olympics torch sold for $41,786 at an RR Auction sale that closed July 23. View the fully illustrated catalog on LiveAuctioneers.
The discovery of the “Type 6” Olympic torch (above) occurred nearly 50 years after the 1968 Summer Games when Olympic researchers used photographic evidence to certify its existence and very necessary creation.
Aside from its distinction as being the first Spanish-speaking Olympiad, the Mexico City Games hold the honor of having the most styles of relay torches; a record obtained not for the sake of one-upmanship, but rather due to the faulty design of the original torch.
On a busy Barcelona street on Sept. 1, 1968, Mariana Valls, son of the president of the Barcelona Athletics Federation, met Olympian Gregorio Rojo to pass the Olympic flame from one torch to another. At the moment of transfer, Rojo’s torch exploded. Both men received minor injuries, the torch relay continued shortly thereafter, and the cause of the detonation was attributed to the fuel volatility and the “too-rapid contact of a lighted torch with an unlighted one.”
In an attempt to protect future torchbearers, as well as to prevent further bad publicity, a safer, simpler torch was developed by the Spanish Olympic Committee—the Type 6, a torch that was made exclusively for use during certain portions of the relay in Spain.
By the time the torch made landfall on Mexican soil on Oct. 6, the torch and its defect issues had been resolved. The flame was carried into the Estadio Olímpico Universitario on Oct. 12 by Mexican Olympian Enriqueta Basilio, who became the first woman to ever light the Olympic cauldron, after a historic 13,546-kilometer route that featured the support of an astounding 2,778 torchbearers.
“It’s a magnificent, museum-quality piece of Olympic history,” said Bobby Livingston, Executive VP at RR Auction.
Additional highlights from the sale include:
– Oslo 1952 Winter Olympics Torch sold for $55,000.
– London 1908 Olympics Gold winner’s medal (below) sold for $33,275.
– Leonid Zhabotinsky’s Tokyo 1964 Summer Olympic Gold winner’s medal (below) sold for $30,250.
– Los Angeles 1984 Summer Olympics Gold winner’s medal sold for $24,361.
– Calgary 1988 Winter Olympics Gold winner’s medal sold for $15,365.
– Patek Philippe Calatrava International Olympic Committee watch sold for $14,948.
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