Olympic Manifesto from 1892, found after flea market search, sold for $8 million

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The Olympic Manifesto, an 1892 document that outlined the revival of the modern Olympic Games, was sold on Wednesday for $8,806,500 in a Sotheby’s auction.

It is the highest sale price ever for a piece of sports memorabilia, according to Sotheby’s, shattering the $5.4 million for a Babe Ruth New York Yankees jersey. It went for more than 8.5 times its $1 million high estimate, following a 12-minute bidding battle.

Frenchman Pierre de Coubertin wrote the 14-page manuscript for a speech delivered in 1892 at the Sorbonne. Two years later, he founded the International Olympic Committee. In 1896, Athens hosted the first modern Olympics, 15 centuries after the last ancient Olympic Games.

Coubertin gave his heart to the Olympic Movement — it rests inside a monument at the ancient Olympic site of Olympia.

The very end of the near-5,000-word manifesto reads:

“Those who have seen 30,000 people running through the rain to attend a football match will not think that I am exaggerating. Let us export rowers, runners and fencers; this is the free trade of the future, and the day that it is introduced into the everyday existence of old Europe, the cause of peace will receive new and powerful support. … I hope that you will help me as you have helped me thus far and that, with you, I shall be able to continue and realize, on a basis appropriate to the conditions of modern life, this grandiose and beneficent work: the reestablishment of the Olympic Games.”

The manifesto went missing during the World Wars. In the 1990s, the Marquis d’Amat of France “scoured flea markets” in Europe and the U.S., tracking it down from a collector in Switzerland, according to the IOC.

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