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Olympic 1896 marathon winner's cup sold for nearly £550,000

The winner’s cup from the initial Olympic marathon at the Athens 1896 games is to remain in Greece soon after getting purchased by a basis at an auction at Christie’s.

The Breal’s Silver Cup, presented to Greek Spyridon (Spyros) Louis, was bought for £541,250 by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation.

It is believed to be a world record amount paid for an item of auctioned Olympic memorabilia.

The cup will be put on permanent public display in Athens from 2015.

The foundation, which was set up in 1996 in honour of the Greek shipping magnate, is establishing a cultural centre in the Greek capital where the cup will be held.

Olympic historian Alexander Kitroeff said: “The significance and value of the silver cup is far greater than almost any other Olympic memorabilia dating from those first modern Games in Athens.

“The cup will serve as a reminder of our history, heritage and resilient spirit.”

It was sold by the runner’s grandson Spyros Louis (junior), who said: “I could never have imagined the auction of my grandfather’s cup would generate such international interest, and raise such significant funds to secure the future of my family.

“I am overwhelmed by the global admiration felt for my grandfather and his Olympic victory for Greece in 1896, and I am proud to have witnessed another historical Olympic event as my children and I watched the auction unfold live online.”

The cup, which has been on private display in the Louis family home for 100 years, was expected to fetch between £120,000 and £160,000.

Christie’s said the previous world record price was achieved in April 2011, when an Olympic torch from the 1952 Games, held in Helsinki, was sold at auction in Paris for €290,000 (£239,000 at the current exchange rate).

The auction was held as London 2012 organisers marked the 100-day countdown to this summer’s Games.