How do Nobel laureates spend their prize money?

How do Nobel laureates spend their prize money?

STOCKHOLM - Nobel laureates sometimes display as much ingenuity when deciding how to spend their prize money as they did on the work that won them the award in the first place.

When Sir Paul Nurse won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2001, he decided to upgrade his motorbike. A fellow winner in 1993, Richard Roberts, installed a croquet lawn in front of his house. Austrian author Elfriede Jelinek, who won in 2004, said the prize meant "financial independence."

This year's awards get under way on Monday, starting with the medicine prize and wrapping up a week later with the economics prize.

Once the frenzied media attention, formal appearances and ceremonies are over, this year's Nobel laureates will also have to decide how to spend the eight million kronor (S$1.56 million) prize money.

And judging from past experience, anything can happen. Sometimes they donate it to charity or scientific research, but that is by no means universal.

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... what kind of incomes they have when they get the prize, and where they are in life," he said.

However real estate is a popular option, at least among those willing to reveal what they spend the money on.

Over a million dollars sounds like a lot but it is often shared between several winners, diluting their Nobel spending power.

Wolfgang Ketterle at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who shared the 2001 physics prize with two colleagues, put his share towards a house and his children's education.

"Since half goes to taxes in the US, there was nothing (more) left," he said.

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