Nobel ceremony moves forward as financial problems loom.
The 12 Nobel Prize laureates arrived Dec. 6 in Sweden to take part in lavish festivities in Stockholm as part of Nobel Week, event organizers said, even as the foundation that hands out the prizes said the global economic recession could force it to reduce the amount of the monetary awards.
Nobel Foundation Executive Director Michael Sohlman said he expected this year’s ceremony and banquet to be unique due to having five women among the Nobel laureates. The ceremony and banquet are on Dec. 10.
"There will be another color than black and white on the podium, thanks to the ladies who are coming. It is an all-time high that five of the 12 laureates in Stockholm are women, and that's really exciting," Sohlman said Dec. 6.
Event organizers said the Nobel Banquet at the Stockholm City Hall would follow a theme of "like a fairy tale," but remained secretive regarding the exact menu for the gala event.
The Nobel Foundation did confirm pigeon breasts and lobster tails were purchased in bulk for the event, along with lightly smoked salmon, Jerusalem artichokes and a number of other culinary items.
TT said while the Swedish royal family would take part in the festivities, Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt would not attend due to his involvement in talks in Brussels.
While the 2009 ceremony would be a posh, black-tie event, ensuing years could see a reduction, Sohlman said.
The global recession hit the Nobel Foundation particularly hard as it bled off nearly one-fifth. The foundation still plans to hand out 10 million Swedish crowns (US$1.5 million) for each prize this year as it has done for most of the last decade. Future prizes, however, could be smaller.
"It might be in the future we would be forced to lower the prize," Sohlman said. "We have sailed the storm, but have taken on some water."
Sohlman said the value of the foundation's assets had only recovered somewhat in 2009 after it lost nearly one-fifth of its invested capital last year due to the financial crisis.
Dynamite tycoon Alfred Nobel established the prizes for the sciences and for peace in his will in 19th century. The Nobel Foundation has handed them out since 1901.
Nobel stipulated his executors should invest 31 million crowns (US$4.5 million) in safe securities, the income from which would be distributed annually in the form of prizes. The value of the invested capital at the end of December last year was 2.8 billion crowns (US$407.2 million).
The total cost for this year's Nobels — some 120 million crowns (US$17.5 million) — covers everything from the cash awards to a lavish banquet in Stockholm and a ceremony in Oslo where U.S. President Barack Obama will be awarded the Peace Prize.
The value of the prize has been steady or increased every year since 1950, according to the foundation's website. No prizes were awarded during World War I or World War II.