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.
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.