Torch from 2024 Paris Olympics to sell before Opening Ceremony

Most 'prolific' Olympic auction to feature torches from 32 of 37 Games, gold medals

Cover Image for Torch from 2024 Paris Olympics to sell before Opening Ceremony
Soccer star Didier Drogba lights the cauldron of the Olympic flame at Marseille's Velodrome Stadium during the first leg of the torch relay. (Credit: Getty Images)

A relay torch from the 2024 Paris Olympics will be sold next month, a week before the final torch-bearer lights the flame to officially mark the start of the Summer Games.

The torch was carried during the first leg of the Olympic flame relay, which will ultimately span 3,100 miles from its start in Olympia, Greece, to Paris, where it will light the Olympic cauldron in the Opening Ceremony on July 26.

It’s the first torch from this year’s Games to sell publicly, and one of around 2,000 created for the 2024 Olympics, approximately one-fifth the typical number of torches used in past Olympics. It also is believed to be the first time that an Olympic torch will sell before the start of the event.

RR Auctions has assembled the most “prolific” Olympic auction in history, according to the auction house’s executive vice president, Bobby Eaton.

The auction includes torches from 32 of the 37 possible Olympic Games and more than 75 winner’s medals, including a 1904 gold medal presented to one-legged American gymnast George Eyser, who won six medals in a single day (estimate: $100,000 and up).

“The breadth of Olympic memorabilia has never been amassed in one sale,” Eaton said.

The record for any Olympic medal ever sold belongs to one of the four won by Jesse Owens in the 1936 Summer Olympics, which sold for more than $1.466 million in October 2022 at SCP Auctions.

One of the rarest and most coveted torches in all of Olympic memorabilia, from the 1960 Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley, is estimated to sell for more than $500,000. Just 25 torches were produced for that year’s Games. One of the torches, once belonging to Walt Disney (who was the chairman of the Games Pageantry Committee), sold for a record $720,000 in 2022.

Eaton has overseen eight semi-annual Olympic auctions at RR, over which time he has noticed a shift in collector preferences.

“Ten years ago, people mostly collected Games they went to, like the 1984 Games,” Eaton said. “Now, younger collectors are interested in more modern Games.”

Unlike some medals from the 1980s, which were placed on the market in large quantities by athletes from some of the poorer Eastern bloc countries immediately after the Olympics, modern medals are actually more difficult to find, as they remain held in private collections.

As a result, RR has a 2012 gold medal awarded to an American runner with an estimate of $40,000 and up, while a gold medal from the 1936 Games in Berlin is estimated at half that price.

The auction house notes the market for Olympic memorabilia has “changed dramatically” since it began running Olympic auctions.

“They help involve new and old collectors with a category of memorabilia that wasn’t as widespread until recently.  The auctions help drive and maintain interest in the Olympic Games in the years in between the Games themselves,” RR Auctions said in a release.

This year’s Paris Olympics holds added significance as it marks the centennial anniversary of the first Winter Olympics, held in 1924 in Chamonix, France.

"As we approach the highly anticipated July Olympics auction, we are thrilled to offer over 75 winners' medals and nearly every torch from the 1936 Olympics onward,” Eaton said. “This auction includes some of the rarest and most sought-after medals and torches that have ever entered the market, making it a unique opportunity for collectors and enthusiasts to own a piece of sports history.”

Will Stern is a reporter and editor for cllct.