Moments after winning prestigious Fields math award in Rio, Kurdish refugee sees medal stolen

A Kurdish refugee turned Cambridge University professor who was awarded mathematics’ most prestigious prize in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday had the gold medal stolen from him just minutes later, organisers in Brazil said.

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Caucher Birkar, 40, was one of four winners of the Fields award, which is seen as equivalent to the Nobel Prize in mathematics. Rio was the first Latin American city to host the prize-giving ceremony.

Event organisers confirmed that the medal was missing and said they would give details of the incident later. Rio police said only that they were attempting to verify the reports.

According to TV Globo, Birkar left the medal along with his wallet and phone in a bag on a table at the convention centre. He alerted security staff members when he noticed the bag was missing. They later found the bag, but the medal and wallet were not there.

The International Mathematical Union, which gives the award to between two and four people every four years, described the medal as made of 14 carat gold and measuring 2.5 inches (6.35 centimetres) in diameter.

Agence France-Presse