Greg Louganis, who dominated world diving competitions in the 1980s, winning double gold medals in back-to-back Olympic Games, is auctioning off Olympics memorabilia and other historical artifacts to raise funds for charity and help finance the next chapter of his life: a focus on health and wellness, social justice and inclusion.
More than 50 items are available with starting bids ranging from $35 for a worn and autographed 2028 LA28 Summer Olympics hat to $3,000 for his mother’s scrapbook featuring 1976 media coverage not indexed online. The auction, which opened November 11, closes at 6 pm ET on December 4, 2022. During the auction period, collectors have the option to buy an item at a higher set price if they want to take something off the market. In addition, collectors can make offers on three Olympic medals available via private sale.
A driving force behind the auction is the memory of his adoptive mother, Frances Louganis. “My mom always taught me, ‘Make everywhere you go better because you were there,’” says the five-time Olympic medalist. “The funds we’ll raise from the auction are designed to help people in need and those who are fighting for justice.”
Like many professional athletes and celebrities, Louganis has had the opportunity to work with private auction houses to sell his personal effects. But that option doesn’t work for the 62-year-old champion, who believes that personal resilience requires a DIY approach and a commitment to life-long learning and innovation. As such, he has hired a team to create a bespoke e-commerce experience on his own website.
“Each item in the auction has a story behind it,” says Louganis, who plans to produce a personalized video message for each purchaser. “I’m looking forward to sharing my experiences with people taking the time to support my personal journey and the causes this project is supporting.”
A beacon of hope on World AIDS Day and beyond
Proceeds from the auction will benefit two non-profits: Children’s Rights, a national organization holding governments accountable for protecting children and keeping families together; and The Damien Center, Indiana’s largest and oldest AIDS service organization.
Louganis has close ties with both groups. In October, Children’s Rights granted him its Voice for Justice award. For World AIDS Day on December 1, he will join The Damien Center event in Indianapolis, where he competed as an athlete and launched his dance career with Dance Kaleidoscope.
Hosting a charitable auction to coincide with World AIDS Day is incredibly symbolic, says Damien Center President & CEO Alan Witchey.
“Greg personally owning his HIV status has provided a beacon of hope to those living with it, proving that an HIV diagnosis does not mean that your life is over,” Witchey says. “His work on HIV awareness and LGBTQ+ issues has empowered a generation to end the HIV epidemic.”
Likewise, Greg inspires those fighting for vulnerable children, says Darlene Larsen, chief development officer at Children’s Rights. “Greg Louganis is a trail blazer and champion for social justice and the rights of children,” Larsen says. “We are honored to be designated as one of the charitable recipients of the proceeds from this auction.”
In addition, Louganis will use a portion of the proceeds to finance the launch of two other organizations: the GEL Dogjo, a health-and-wellness center for humans and dogs; and the Frances Louganis Foundation, which will support Olympic athletes transitioning to life after the games while also supporting a variety of causes: LGBTQ+, foster care and adoption, mental health and brain injury/concussion.
The auction provides an exclusive opportunity for a wide range of audiences – from sports fans and art collectors to human rights advocates and American history buffs – to purchase items representing not only Louganis’s athletic success but also his dance and acting careers, as well as his challenges as a gay man with HIV. Indeed, while Louganis is making many of his personal effects available to the public via the auction, the Smithsonian American History Museum is curating several pieces to preserve his legacy as an elite athlete and LGBTQ+ icon.
Photo Credit: Mark Hanauer