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    The torch that lit the Olympic cauldron at Stadio Olimpico!

    1960 Rome Summer Olympics Final Torch of the Flame Relay. The city of Rome had been named as the home of the 1908 Summer Games, but the 1906 eruption of Mount Vesuvius, the volcano that had buried Pompeii nearly two millennia earlier, devastated the city of Naples and necessitated the diversion of funds to the city's reconstruction. The 1908 Olympics were instead hosted by London, delaying the Rome Games by just over half a century.

    Today, the 1960 Olympics ranks among the most celebrated in the history of the Games, best remembered for the Gold Medal performance of Cassius Clay in the Light Heavyweight boxing division, the debut on the world's stage of a man who would gain peerless fame as three-time Heavyweight World Champion Muhammad Ali. Former polio patient Wilma Rudolph would cement her claim to the status of "fastest woman on Earth" with three Gold Medals in track and field, and the American basketball team, led by Hall of Famers Walt Bellamy, Jerry Lucas, Oscar Robertson and Jerry West, would likewise take the podium's top step.

    All of these legendary athletes were gathered in tense anticipation of the competition ahead on August 25, 1960 as this torch entered Rome's Stadio Olympico in the hand of nineteen-year old Italian cross country runner Giancarlo Peris, who had been selected for the great honor of running the final leg of the Olympic torch relay. He wrote of the occasion:

    "When the Rome Olympics was held in 1960, I was in my third year in senior high school. I liked middle-distance racing and had set an Italian student record in the 1,500m before the Rome Olympics. Because I was too young, I did not participate as an athlete in the 1960 Olympic Games. The Italian government chose me as the last torchbearer because Italy had not yet totally gotten past the shadow of World War II. The Italian Olympic Committee hoped to choose a promising young athlete to represent hope and the future and selected several young athletes aged 18-19 through a 1500m race. I was the winner in the race.

    August 25, 1960, became the most unforgettable day of my life. When the Rome Games of the XVII Olympiad -- Rome 1960 -- officially started, and after the Olympic torch was relayed by 1,259 torchbearers across 2,750km, the torch was passed into my hands. I held the torch high, ran up to the cauldron platform and lit the cauldron of the Olympic Games. That moment is the most precious and unforgettable memory for me, though it lasted only two or three minutes."

    After the completion of his historic duty, the torch he carried was returned to Gran Ufficiale Commendator Sr. Aldo Mairano, who served as President of the Olympic Committee for the Rome Games. The torch has since remained in Mairano's family, and is consigned to this Platinum Night auction by his daughter, with her detailed letter of provenance.

    The torch design is elegant in its simplicity, recalling the columns of ancient Roman architecture, bearing text at the hilt reading, "Giochi Della XVII Olimpiade." Stamped on the base of the handle is attribution to the manufacturer, "M.F. Curtisa, Bologna" and serial number "3061." The torch measures sixteen inches (16") in length, and presents without any flaws to report. As is typical of all surviving Rome torches, the disposable flame guard that once separated the body of the torch from the fire is no longer present.

    Beyond the elite significance as the final, cauldron-lighting torch of the relay, the appeal of the lot is further enhanced by an extraordinarily rare original wick and a pair of wall-mounting brackets for the torch. One of these brackets is the standard bronze format, but the other is the sole (to the best of our knowledge) gilt bronze example, a special creation for Mr. Maidano, whose name is engraved beneath the "XVII Olimpiade Roma" text at the bottom.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    February, 2016
    20th-21st Saturday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 5
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 4,509

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    19.5% of the successful bid (minimum $14) per lot.

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