Ryan Lochte won 12 Olympic medals in an illustrious — and sometimes controversial — career spanning the 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016 Games.
Now half of those medals are being auctioned by RR Auction, based in Boston and New Hampshire, in an online sale that ends July 21.
The medals, all with their original cases which makes them more attractive to collectors, are listed in three lots: the silver from the 200-meter individual medley in 2004 with an estimate of $10,000+; two bronzes from 2008 (200 IM and 400 IM ) which already have reached $14,150, exceeding their $12,000+ estimate, and two silvers (200 IM and 4 x 100 free relay) and one bronze (200 backstroke) from 2012 with an estimate of $60,000+.
Bobby Eaton, chief operating officer for RR Auction, tells Around the Rings the medals offered for sale are coming from a consignor.
However, each medal is accompanied by a signed letter of provenance from Lochte, who states, “I hereby certify that this item originated from my personal collection.”
Eaton said Lochte, 37, still “has retained his gold medals” to the best of the auction house’s knowledge. He won golds in the 4 x 200 free relay in 2004, the 200 back and 4 x 200 free relay in 2008, the 400 IM and 4 x 200 free relay in 2012 and the 4 x 200 free relay in 2016. During the Rio Olympics, Lochte was forced to leave Brazil after a gas-station incident in which he was later charged with falsely reporting a crime. The charges were eventually dismissed.
Lochte, who still holds the world record in the 200 IM from 2011, attempted to make his fifth Olympic team at the U.S. Olympic Trials last summer. However, he finished seventh in the 200 IM final and did not qualify for the U.S. team for Tokyo 2020.
Lochte is married and has two children, and said in 2019, “I think it’s pretty obvious now I’m 100-percent family. They’ve changed my whole entire life and my whole perspective about everything.
“That party boy image that I used to have, I know it kind of messed me up and it stuck with me, but that’s not me. I could care less about that lifestyle. My celebrations are picking up my son and my daughter and playing with them.”
In the past, his celebrations involved buying some bling, or custom jewelry. Lochte’s 14-karat white gold Olympic ring, custom-made by Johnny Dang, is also for sale with an estimate of $8,000-plus. The ring has 196 round brilliant-cut white diamonds surrounding a large black diamond. The underside features an Olympic torch design. The auction includes photos of Lochte wearing the ring.
After Lochte won five medals in London in 2012, he purchased a Breitling Super Avenger Black diamond wristwatch, which is also in the auction, with an estimate of $10,000+.
The ring and watch are coming from the same consignor as the medals.
Olympic medals are sometimes sold to the public when an athlete encounters financial difficulty or wants to raise money for a particular project or for charity. Older medals are found in estate sales or when families decide to sell them because there are more heirs than medals, and it is easier to split money.
Medals with provenance or connection to an athlete or event sometimes sell at a premium. Earlier this year, German cyclist Tony Martin auctioned his 2012 silver medal to benefit RTL’s Ukraine Aid, a children’s charity, netting about $48,000. The winner, Germany dietary supplement company FitLine, returned the medal to Martin.
The RR Auction also features the silver medal awarded to Ukrainian gymnast Ruslan Mezentsev at the Sydney 2000 Games with an estimate of $10,000+. All proceeds will go to the ongoing war effort.
Eaton said this is the first time more than one London medal has been sold in the same auction lot. He estimated that each silver is worth $25,000 and the bronze $10,000. Winning bidders also must pay a 25 percent buyer’s premium.
American speedskater Dan Jansen, whose tale of tragedy turned to triumph resonated around the world, is selling some of his apparel, a pair of inline skates and two flags to raise money for his foundation.
There are 20 Jansen-related lots in the RR Auction, including six skinsuits. Other lots include Team USA uniforms, a training cycling suit, a torchbearer suit from the 2002 Olympic torch relay, sweaters, jackets and bags. There are also jackets from Jansen’s career as an NBC commentator.
“Essentially he’s cleaning out his closet,” Eaton said. “They were moving and he just had bins and bins of stuff.”
Eaton has had direct contact with Jansen. “He’s fantastic,” he said. “His major stuff from Lillehammer is in the museum at the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee, and so this was just all the rest he had in bins and he was like, ‘What am I doing with this stuff?’”
Eaton suggested raising money for Jansen’s foundation. He was certain collectors would value the apparel more highly than Jansen did.
“To him, they’re just clothes,” Eaton said.
The auctioneer said the “two coolest pieces are Jansen’s Calgary skinsuits,” and they are probably the most valuable. Each has an estimate of $1,000+. The other 18 lots have estimates of $200+ apiece.
Jansen was the favorite in the 500 and 1,000-meter events going into the Calgary 1988 Winter Games. Sadly, his sister Jane passed away from leukemia on the morning of the 500. Jansen, devastated by the news but determined to compete, fell on his first turn. Four days later, he fell again in the 1,000. In Albertville in 1992, Jansen just missed an Olympic medal, finishing fourth.
In Lillehammer, he was again favored to win the 500, but finished a disappointing eighth. With one more race — the 1,000 —- Jansen finally won his gold with a world-record time.
The Dan Jansen Foundation helps Individuals and families affected by cancer and also supports youth sports program and assists high school seniors in the pursuit of higher education.