“The fact that this is the second Cross ever awarded is quite important, particularly as it’s such a rare decoration. The soldier had an amazing life and the story of how he won it was spectacular,” a spokeswoman for auctioneers Spink said.
The buyer was agent Michael Naxton, who acts for the Conservative Party’s millionaire chairman Lord Ashcroft. He owns the world’s largest collection of Victoria Crosses.
The medal sold on Thursday was awarded to Lieutenant John Bythesea who volunteered with William Johnstone in 1854 to intercept a crucial dispatch from the Tsar to the Baltic fortress Bomarsund, which was a Russian military stronghold.
In 1857, both men received the Cross in a special ceremony from Queen Victoria. Johnstone’s medal is on display in a Los Angeles history museum.