BERLIN – Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov came out on Monday as the mystery buyer of the original 1892 Olympic manifesto, the most expensive piece of sports memorabilia ever sold at auction, when he donated it to the Olympic museum in Lausanne.
The businessman, who also heads the international fencing federation, had bought the 14-page document penned by International Olympic Committee founder Pierre de Coubertin, advocating the resurrection of the ancient Greek Games, for a record $8.8 million at auction in New York back in December.
Usmanov's identity had been kept under wraps at the end of a 12-minute long bidding war between three international buyers, that had sent the price from the top estimate of $1 million to the record $8.8 million, according to auctioneer Sotheby's.
"Today we are witnessing history," IOC President Thomas Bach said at a ceremony in Lausanne, headquarters of the IOC and the site of the Olympic museum.
"At one level, we are witness to this historic document, the manuscript of the speech that laid out the philosophical foundations of the Olympic Movement."