Although this story has since been debunked, the idea itself is powerful. Who would be willing to part ways with their Olympic medal, one of the highest awards for merit and achievement one can hope to attain in our society?
It appears that this is precisely what happened earlier this summer in Melbourne, Australia after a pair of Olympic medals were found—incredibly—discarded in a trash bin. 5 months later, they have yet to be claimed.
The two medals found in the rubbish were a bronze medal from the 1952 Olympic games (XV) held in Helsinki, Finland and a 1948 participation medal from the London Olympics (XIV) that year. Depending on the condition and how old they are, bronze Olympic medals sell for between about $50 and several hundred dollars for collectors on the secondary market.
This doesn't even take into account the historical, artistic, or sentimental value associated with one of these awards.
Discovered in June in a suburban neighborhood, the pair of mid-century Olympic medals were turned into Melbourne police, who have been attempting to locate the owner. So far, the authorities have yet to determine if the medals were stolen or merely thrown out by their original owner(s). To date, nobody has claimed either of the medals.
One commenter suggestion points toward the medals in question possibly being stolen from a hotel display case honoring Australian track-and-field legend Shirley Strickland de la Hunty in 2004. The medals found tossed away in the garbage and the pilfered medals could well be one and the same. She won 7 Olympic medals in the three games held between 1948 and 1956. The stolen medals from a decade ago included one gold, two silver, and one bronze medal. At this point authorities have yet to rule out any possibilities.