For Sale: Nobel Prize for Medicine; Starting Bid: $243,000

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By Vittorio Hernandez | February 26, 2013 12:19 PM EST

Souvenir hunters would probably find the memorabilia that the family of scientist Francis Crick is putting up on sale at Heritage Auction a good bargain despite the opening bid set at $243,000.

After all, Mr Crick was the Nobel Prize winner in 1962 for his discovery of the structure of the DNA.

The prize is a 23-carat gold valued at $500,000.

Besides the award, the family of Mr Crick is selling his lab coats, books and other memorabilia to help fund research at the new Francis Crick Institute schedule to be completed in London by 2015.

In explaining the auction, the family pointed out that Mr Crick was a modest man who would rather have a big chalkboard and a portrait of Charles Darwin in his office when he was still alive rather than have a cabinet full of awards.

The prize has been with the family for the past 50 years and they opted to auction it with the hope that a museum or institute that would bid for it would place the prize and other memorabilia on public display for it to inspire the next generation of scientists, said Mr Crick's granddaughter, Kindra Crick.

It would be the first Nobel prize to be auctioned in more than 70 years, Heritage Auctions said on Monday.

Mr Crick teamed up with American zoologist and geneticist James Watson in proposing the double-helical structure for DNA and the replication scheme in 1953, and the eventually suggested a general theory on the structure of small viruses.

For their role in solving the structure of the DNA-helix, the molecule with genetic information from one generation to the other, Messrs. Crick and Watson shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology in 1962 with Maurice Wilkins.

The Nobel Prize in Physiology for 2012 was awarded to Sir John B. Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka for their discovery that mature cells can be reprogrammed to become pluripotent.

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