The Olympic manifesto was written by France's Pierre de Coubertin.
The Olympic manifesto was written by France's Pierre de Coubertin.

Olympics manifesto from 1892 sells for $12.8 million

THE original Olympics manifesto outlining the foundation of the modern Games has shattered the world record for the most expensive piece of sports memorabilia sold at auction, fetching $12.8 million.

Experts had expected the item to sell for up to $1.5 million, but the artefact climbed in price after a more than 12 minute-long bidding war between three international buyers, according to auctioneer Sotheby's.

The Olympic manifesto, penned by International Olympic Committee founder Pierre de Coubertin in 1892, advocated the resurrection of the Ancient Greek Games and was the precursor to the competition's debut four years later in Athens.

"Those who have seen 30,000 people running through the rain to attend a football match will not think that I am exaggerating," the manifesto reads.

"Let us export rowers, runners and fencers; this is the free trade of the future, and the day that it is introduced into the everyday existence of old Europe, the cause of peace will receive new and powerful support … I hope that you will help me as you have helped me thus far and that, with you, I shall be able to continue and realise, on a basis appropriate to the conditions of modern life, this grandiose and beneficent work: the re-establishment of the Olympic Games."

The document went missing during the World Wars but was tracked down from a collector in Switzerland in the 1990s.

"Today's record result stands as a testament to Pierre de Coubertin's vision of more than a century ago, and the reverence with which the Olympic Games are still held," Sotheby's senior specialist Selby Kiffer said in a statement.

"This marks my highest price on the rostrum in more than three decades at Sotheby's."

A New York Yankees jersey worn by Babe Ruth was previously the most expensive item of sports memorabilia, selling for $8.23 million in June.

Items of historical significance are popular among sports collectors, with James Naismith's Founding Rules of Basketball selling for more than $5.8 million in 2010.