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An Olympic silver medal won by German long jumper Carl Ludwig Herman “Luz” Long, who finished second to Jesse Owens in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, sold for a staggering $488,435 at SCP Auctions Saturday.

The sale was a record for Olympic silver medals. By comparison, Bill Russell’s Olympic gold medal sold for $587,500 last year.

Olympic Silver Medal won by Germany's Carl "Luz" Long during the 1936 Berlin Games.

Olympic Silver Medal won by Germany's Carl "Luz" Long during the 1936 Berlin Games.

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Luz was the runner-up to Owens in the event, but the real story was his friendship with Owens and his courageous display of sportsmanship in helping the American star during the 1936 Olympics in politically tense Germany.

Long’s historic silver medal headlined a special auction of Long family heirlooms,  the “Beacon of Hope: The Luz Long Collection,” at SP Auctions.

“These world record results showcase the amazing story of Luz Long the most Courageous Olympian,” David Kohler SCP Auctions President David Kohler said.

Owens, 23, was under pressure to perform as an African American on Adolf Hitler’s home turf. He won four gold medals but would not have won the long jump if not for an assist from Long, his top contender from Germany. After two failed attempts in the long jump trials, Owens only had one more shot at qualifying for the final round. At that moment, Long suggested that Owens change his mark and start his jump before the foul line so he wouldn’t scratch on his final attempt.

German Olympic athlete Carl "Luz" Long.

Carl Ludwig "Luz" Long. 

In the final, Owens took gold with a new Olympic record of 8.06 meters (26 feet, 5½ inches), while Long earned silver with a 7.87m jump. After the event, Long was the first to congratulate Owens and embraced him at the pit. After the medal presentation, the two walked around the stadium arm-in-arm and were celebrated by the crowd of 110,000.

Owens later praise Long for his sportsmanship, saying that the German athlete “forced me to give my best.”

“It took a lot of courage for him to befriend me in front of Hitler,” Owens said. “You can melt down all the medals and cups I have and they wouldn’t be a plating on the twenty-four karat friendship that I felt for Luz Long at that moment.”

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