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Russian Tycoon Usmanov To Give Back Auctioned Nobel Medal

Russian businessman Alisher Usmanov says he was "distressed" that U.S. scientist James Watson had felt forced to sell his Nobel Prize gold medal. (file photo)

Russia's richest man has said he had bought James Watson's Nobel Prize medal in order to return it to the U.S. scientist.

In a statement on December 9, steel and telecoms tycoon Alisher Usmanov said that he was "distressed" that Watson had felt forced to sell his gold medal.

"James Watson is one of the greatest biologists in the history of mankind and his award for the discovery of DNA structure must belong to him," Usmanov said.

The medal, awarded in 1962, sold for more than $4 million at a Christie's auction last week.

Watson, 86, has said he planned to donate part of the proceeds to charities and to support scientific research.

According to “Forbes” magazine, Usmanov is worth $15.8 billion.

Based on reporting by AP and TASS