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Russian billionaire Usmanov revealed as $8.8m Olympic manifesto buyer

The mystery buyer of the original 1892 Olympic manifesto, the most expensive piece of sports memorabilia ever sold at auction, has been revealed as Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov, who has donated the document to the Olympic museum in Lausanne.

The businessman, who also heads the international Fencing Federation, had bought the 14-page document penned by International Olympic Committee (IOC) founder Pierre de Coubertin, advocating the resurrection of the ancient Greek Games, for a record $8.8 million at auction in New York back in December.

Usmanov's identity had been kept secret at the end of a 12-minute long bidding war between three international buyers, that had sent the price from the top estimate of $1m to the record $8.8m, according to auctioneer Sotheby's.

A New York Yankees jersey worn by Babe Ruth was previously the most expensive item of sports memorabilia, selling for $5.64m last year.

"Today we are witnessing history," IOC President Thomas Bach said at a ceremony in Lausanne, headquarters of the IOC and the site of the Olympic museum.

"At one level, we are witness to this historic document, the manuscript of the speech that laid out the philosophical foundations of the Olympic Movement.

"On another level, we are witnessing a historic moment with this manuscript returning to its Olympic home, the place where it belongs."

Usmanov, who held a 30% stake in Premier League club Arsenal until 2018, said the document had to come back to its home.

"This manuscript is the manifesto for the modern Olympic Games," Usmanov said. "I believe that the Olympic museum is the most appropriate place to keep this priceless manuscript."