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DNA Scientist’s Historic Letter To Son About Discovery To Auction For Millions

Dr. Francis Crick's 1953 Letter To His 12-Year-Old Son Describing DNA Will Auction At Christies Next Month And Is Expected To Sell Millions

A letter written by the one of the two scientists who discovered the structure of DNA to his 12-year-old son, weeks before the public announcement of their 1953 findings — will head to auction for likely millions next month.

British scientist Francis Crick’s hand-written letter to his son Michael — then ill at boarding school — about his “most important discovery,” is expected to fetch more than $1.97 million at Christie’s auction in New York on April 10.

The letter is being sold by the now adult Michael, 72, who lives in Seattle. He says he is selling the letter to mark the 60 anniversary of the DNA discovery and that part of the proceeds will go to the Salk Institute for brain research in La Jolla, Calif, where his father spent 27 years after leaving England.

The letter is dated March 19, 1953. Dr. Crick, who was back then a biologist at Cambridge University’s Medical Research Council Council working alongside Dr. James Watson and Dr. Maurice Wilkins, believed that DNA — formally known as deoxyribonucleic acid — contained the coded instructions for life.

In February 1953, Crick and Watson were given the green light to attempt to try and construct a model of DNA. In this they succeeded, becoming the first to describe the double helix structure and changing the face of biology forever.

In the letter, which is signed “Lots of love, Daddy,” Dr Crick wrote:

“We have built a model for the structure of des-oxy-ribose-nucleic-acid, (read it carefully) called DNA for short.”

The biologist also drew a diagram for his son, writing “Our structure is very beautiful,” before adding, “in other words we think we have found the basic copying mechanism by which life comes from life.”

The letter also contains the first written understanding that DNA is a code as well as details about the mechanism of DNA replication.

It was on on the morning of February 28, 60 years ago this week, when Dr. Watson realized how the bases of DNA paired up. He and Crick then, famously, went to the Eagle pub in Cambridge, England, where Crick told everyone within earshot, “We have discovered the secret of life.”

Dr. Francis Crick's 1953 Letter To His 12-Year-Old Son Describing DNA Will Auction At Christies Next Month And Is Expected To Sell For Between One And Two Million Dollars

All three scientists —- Dr. Crick. Dr. Watson and Dr. Maurice Wilkins — would go on to win the Nobel Prize in physiology and medicine in 1962. Dr. Crick who later emigrated to California died in 2004 at the age of 88.

Of his father’s letter about his collaborative DNA discovery, the younger Crick said:

“The excitement of the event was beautifully captured for the first time in this perfect letter summarizing the nub of the discovery in seven simple pages.”

It is expected to sell for between one and two million dollars.

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