LAGUNA NIGUEL, Calif. (AP) – A silver medal won by Luz Long, the German long jumper who befriended Jesse Owens at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, has sold at auction for more than $488,000, an amount that the auction house said it was a record price for a publicly sold second-place prize.
He walked hand-in-hand through the stadium with Owens for a long time to celebrate his victories while Adolf Hitler watched from the stands. The family of the long jumper, who died in the Second World War, decided to sell the medal and other collectibles at auction. The auction house labeled the Luz collection as a “beacon of hope”.
“These world record results show the incredible story of Luz Long, the bravest Olympian,” said David Kohler, president of SCP Auctions.
About a year ago, Bill Russell’s Olympic gold medal from the 1956 Games sold for $587,000. One of Owens’ gold medals sold for $1.46 million in 2013. The exact price of Luz’s medal was $488,435.
Long cemented himself in Olympic lore during the Berlin Games when he was the first to congratulate Owens on his victory in the long jump. Later, they walked around the stadium together and took pictures.
There’s also the story Owens told about Long coming at him after he fouled his first two attempts in the preliminary round. With just one more attempt to reach the finals, Owens said Long suggested he take his leg off in front of the backboard, to ensure he wouldn’t foul on his final attempt. Owens followed that advice and won the title – one of four he won in Berlin – with a then-Olympic record leap of 8.06 meters (26 feet, 5 1/2 inches).
Owens was Black, and it was said that his thrilling success at those Olympics annoyed Hitler by dispelling the Nazi myth of Aryan racial superiority.
“It took a lot of courage for him to befriend me,” Owens said years later. “You could melt down all the medals and trophies I have and they wouldn’t be a part of the 24 carat friendship I felt for Luz Long at that moment. Hitler must have gone crazy watching us hug.”
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