Read as much as you want on BostonGlobe.com, anywhere and anytime, for just 99¢.

DNA discoverer’s letter sells for $5.3m, a record

NEW YORK — A letter that scientist Francis Crick wrote to his son about his Nobel Prize-winning DNA discovery was sold to anonymous buyer at a New York City auction on Wednesday for a record-breaking $5.3 million.

The price, which far exceeded the $1 million pre-sale estimate, topped $6 million when the commission is included, according to Christie’s. The price was a record for a letter sold at auction, Christie’s said, eclipsing an Abraham Lincoln letter that sold in April 2008 for $3.4 million including commission.

Continue reading below

On Thursday, the molecular biologist’s 1962 Nobel Prize medal in physiology or medicine will be offered by Heritage Auctions, which estimates it could fetch over $500,000.

The items are among a dozen artifacts Crick’s heirs are selling to benefit scientific research.

In the March 19, 1953, handwritten letter to his 12-year-old son, Michael, Crick describes his discovery of the structure of DNA as something ‘‘beautiful.’’

The note tells his son how he and James Watson found the copying mechanism ‘‘by which life comes from life.’’ It includes a simple sketch of DNA’s double helix structure, which Crick concedes he can’t draw very well.

Crick, who died in 2004 at age 88, was awarded the Nobel Prize along with Watson and Maurice Wilkins.

Loading comments...

You have reached the limit of 5 free articles in a month

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week