THE WASHINGTON-LAFAYETTE CINCINNATI MEDAL SELLS FOR $5.3 MILLION AT SOTHEBY’S Today at Sotheby’s, George Washington’s specially commissioned gold medal
which was presented by his family to his adoptive son, the Marquis de Lafayette, sold for $5,305,000.
News-Antique.com - Dec 12,2007 - SACRED RELIC BELONGING TO TWO OF THE GREATEST HEROES OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION WILL RETURN TO LAFAYETTE’S HOME IN FRANCE, CHÂTEAU LA GRANGE
New York, NY, December 11, 2007 - Today at Sotheby’s, George Washington’s specially commissioned gold medal
which was presented by his family to his adoptive son, the Marquis de Lafayette, sold for $5,305,000. The medal,
which symbolizes the ideals of the Revolution, was purchased by La
Fondation de Chambrun, located at Château La Grange, the home of the
Marquis de Lafayette, 30 miles east of Paris. Three bidders competed for the
medal, two on the telephone and one in the salesroom. The successful bid
was executed by Christophe Van de Weghe, a Contemporary art dealer in
Manhattan who represented La Fondation de Chambrun.
Speaking on behalf of the foundation, Mr. Van de Weghe said, “The medal is
a symbol of the bond of friendship between America and France and the
extraordinary connection between two of the greatest heroes of the 18th
century, George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette. There are only
two places where this treasure belongs, Mount Vernon and Château La
Grange, and we are thrilled to have been able to save it for the public. The
medal will be on view in the bedroom of the Marquis de Lafayette at Château La Grange, and we would be happy to
work with Mount Vernon in the future to arrange for its exhibition at Washington’s home in Virginia.”
The medal, in the form of an eagle, represents the values that Washington, Lafayette and their comrades had fought for during the Revolutionary War, and to uphold those values, they formed The Society of the Cincinnati in 1783.
Eagle badges, or medals, were presented to all members of the Society, but the design of the present example is unique, being made for Washington to his specification by the engineer and designer of Washington, D.C., Pierre Charles L’Enfant.
After Washington’s death in 1799, the medal was passed on to his family who presented it to Lafayette during his
triumphal return to the United States in 1824. Lafayette treasured this talisman from his greatest hero, offering it a
place of honor in his home for the remainder of his life. Prior to the exhibition preceding today’s auction, this treasure had not been seen in public on American soil in more than 100 years. Complete with what is almost certainly the original ribbon and red leather presentation box bearing the label: WASHINGTON’S CINCINNATI BADGE, the medal had been consigned by Lafayette’s great-great-granddaughter. It had been estimated to sell for $4/10 million*.