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Thu Apr 17 12:15:06 SAST 2014

Prize money can go to a noble cause, or a croquet lawn

Sapa-AFP | 10 October, 2013 01:05
Michael Levitt. File photo
Image by: STEPHEN LAM / REUTERS

Nobel laureates sometimes display as much ingenuity in spending their prize money as they did on the work that won them the award.

After winning the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1993, Richard Roberts installed a croquet lawn in front of his house. His co-winner, Phillip Sharp, decided to splash out on a 100-year-old federal style house.

The prize money is eight million Swedish krona ( R12.5-million ) .

Lars Heikensten, executive director of the Nobel Foundation, said there were no obvious shopping trends among laureates.

"I think it depends a lot on which country they come from; their personal finances," he said.

New laureates are inundated with offers to attend meetings, lectures and inaugurations .

"I've not managed to think about the prize money. There have been great demands on my time," said Serge Haroche, joint winner of the 2012 physics prize.

For winners of the peace prize the decision is often clear-cut.

Many, like US President Barack Obama in 2009 and the European Union in 2012, donate to charities.

Bangladeshi economist Muhammad Yunus, who founded the Grameen Bank, which gives loans to lift people out of poverty, said he would fund an eye hospital and a business making affordable food for the poor with his 2006 prize money.

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