Need a pair of extra hands around the house these days? Earlier this month, a single item sale featured the hands of a remarkable man…not his real hands, of course, but a set of four gold casts of Nelson Mandela hands, created in 2002. Mandela was known for working to further human rights in South Africa and all around the world. In June of 1964, Mandela was given a life sentence by the South African government for his work to end apartheid; he was eventually released in 1990. The prison term he endured did not deter him; after his release, he continued to fight and became South Africa’s first black President. In 1993 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work, which peacefully ended South African apartheid and laid the foundation for democracy in that country.
To raise money and awareness for the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, Mandela had every detail of his right hand captured in 99.99% pure gold by Harmony Gold, a prominent South African gold mining company. Two of the hands form a fist, symbolizing solidarity and support against apartheid, one inscribed 1964 and the other 1990. In addition, two open hands were created to symbolize unity and reconciliation, again each inscribed with 1990, commemorating the year he was released from prison.
The set was originally purchased by Malcolm Duncan, a South African businessman who paid $31,000. Two years ago, he sold them to a Canadian cryptocurrency exchange for $10M in Bitcoin – really? Converting solid gold into an invisible currency? This time around, the presale estimate for the complete set was $10-20M; however, if the full set did not sell, each hand would be sold separately.
According to news reports, the set sold for $10.45M; but upon further research, there appear to be some discrepancies as one of the online platforms shows the following results – the full set did not sell and only two hands sold. The solid gold fist inscribed 1990 sold for $2.3M, and the open hand sold for $2.225M. So as far as the actual results go, your guess is as good as mine…really!