Russian billionaire showed he has a heart as big as his $800 million Dilbar megayacht. Alisher Usmanov outbid others and bought James Watson’s Nobel prize for $4.8 million at auction, only to return it for free to the delighted scientist who had sold it due to income constraints.


In 2014, billionaire Alisher Usmanov said, ‘In my opinion, a situation in which an outstanding scientist has to sell a medal recognizing his achievements is unacceptable. James Watson is one of the greatest biologists in the history of mankind, and his award for the discovery of the DNA structure must belong to him.’ With this thought in mind, the tycoon with a heart as big as his superyacht Dilbar (it is 511 feet long) bought James Watson’s Nobel Prize medal only to return it.

Christie’s had estimated the medal would fetch between $2.5 million to $3.5 million, but the medal was finally sold for $4.76 million.

The benevolent gesture was also grand, as the Russian entrepreneur paid $4.8 million for the medal at an auction at Christie’s in New York City. At the time, the steel and mining magnate was worth $15 billion and wanted to put his money to good use for the rightful owner and even had his money spent on the item put to good use on scientific research. “It was a huge honor for me to be able to show my respect for a scientist who has made an invaluable contribution to the development of modern science. These kinds of awards must remain with their original recipients,” Usmanov said in a statement.

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James Watson reunited with his Nobel prize.

Watson revealed he planned to donate part of the proceeds to charities and to support scientific research, per BBC. He was awarded the Nobel medal in 1962 alongside Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins after discovering the double helix structure of DNA. He became the first individual to put his Nobel Prize for sale by a living recipient. He did the unthinkable owing to income loss after racist comments that also harmed his reputation. Thanks to early Facebook investor Usmanov (Worth $13.5 billion according to Forbes), not only was the medal not going anywhere, but a lot more good was achieved.

Moored at a marina, Dilbar dwarfs every other vessel. Via Facebook / @Mycrewagency.

Alisher Usmanov owns the Dilbar megayacht –

It was perhaps this good karma that came back to him in the form of the lavish $800 million Dilbar yacht in 2016. The 511-foot Lurssen beauty with two helipads, a 100-feet swimming pool, a garden, a crew of 100, and 3,800 square meters of living space for 24 guests became the most prized possession of the entrepreneur.

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The Dilbar has two helipads. Via Youtube / @Yacht Base

Dilbar became the largest mega yacht worldwide owing to gross tonnage of 15917 tons and a fuel capacity of 1,000,049 litres. It brought industry greats like Espen Oieno and Winch designs under one roof to make the floating asset a possibility.

Via Facebook / @LuxuryPulse.

Unfortunately, owing to sanctions, German authorities of the Federal Criminal Police Office seized the boat in the port of Hamburg while the Dilbar yacht was docked and undergoing refit at Blohm+Voss shipyard in Hamburg in October 2021. The vessel continues to be moored in Germany to date.

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With over 15 years of experience in luxury journalism, Neha Tandon Sharma is a notable senior writer at Luxurylaunches. Her expertise spans luxury yachts, high-end fashion, and celebrity culture. Beyond writing, her passion for fantasy series is evident. Beginning with articles on women-centric gadgets, she's now a leading voice in luxury, with a fondness for opulent superyachts. To date, her portfolio boasts more than 2 million words, often penned alongside a cappuccino.