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DNA pioneer Francis Crick's Nobel prize sells for $2.27m

Nobel Prize medal and Francis Crick
Image caption The Nobel Prize medal was awarded to Francis Crick in 1962

The Nobel Prize won by British scientist Francis Crick for his discovery of DNA has sold for $2.27m (£1.47m) at auction in New York.

It was bought by Jack Wang, CEO of a Shanghai-based biomedical firm, who had flown in specially for the sale.

Professor Crick won the prize in 1962 for his discovery of the structure of the DNA molecule, making it possible to decode how living beings function.

It was one of 10 lots put up for sale by Crick's heirs.

On Wednesday a letter written by Crick, describing for his 12-year-old son his discovery of the double helix shape of DNA, sold for $5.3m - far exceeding its estimate.

The sales will in part benefit scientific research.

'Secret of life'

Much of the bidding at Thursday's auction happened remotely, by telephone and internet - but Jack Wang was so determined to buy the Nobel Prize medal that he flew in from California, and was prepared to offer double what he ended up paying, reports the BBC's Barbara Plett from New York.

He said he was looking for ways to encourage research into his own company's technology.

"We're going to form a committee and then judge which scientists have contributed to new technology, and then we're going to pass that medal and diploma to the winner," said Mr Wang.

Crick discovered the structure of DNA along with two other scientists, James Watson and Maurice Wilkins.

"We have found the secret of life," he announced in a Cambridge pub in 1962.

All three later received the Nobel prize for "their discoveries concerning the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for information transfer in living material".

His granddaughter, Kendra, said the family decided to sell the medal and other of his possessions in part to raise money for scientific research, and was overwhelmed by the result.

"It's all about this excitement around science and if it can inspire anyone, I'm sure that would make him very happy," she said.

This is only the second time that a Nobel medal has been sold in public auction.

Part of the proceeds will go to fund a new medical research institute in London named in honour of Francis Crick.

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