The Genius Sperm Bank - Documentary

He was a millionaire who dreamed of saving humanity using the sperm of geniuses. But what became of Robert Klark Graham's master plan?

In the late 1970s, in a underground bunker on his ranch near San Diego, American millionaire Robert Klark Graham set up the world's most controversial sperm bank known as the Repository for Germinal Choice.

Already famous as the inventor of the shatterproof spectacle lens, 70-year-old Graham was set to turn his hand to a much more infamous career.

He believed that "retrograde humans" were breeding unchecked. He wanted to reverse this trend by bringing thousands of geniuses into the world, fathered by the most brilliant minds. Single-handedly he dreamed of saving humanity using the sperm of clever men.


Graham wanted to recruit the choicest sperm he could find. He initially convinced three Nobel Laureates to donate, including the notorious racist William Shockley. But elderly sperm - albeit eminent - was not good for freezing, so he decided to cast the net wider.

While at a dinner party botany professor Jim Bidlack was asked by Graham if he would be willing to provide him with a specimen that very evening.

"We were getting close to the end of the evening, we had a conversation and somewhere during that conversation he said 'would you be willing to provide us with a specimen, do you think you are up to it?'," says Mr Bidlack.

He was and did.

The tycoon's controversial project was exposed to the world by LA Times journalist Edwin Chen. He stumbled across the story while interviewing a researcher at a zoo, contacted Graham and was invited over for an interview.

"There were a lot of questions, many of them pointed at this notion of a master race and that this is something that shouldn't be done, but he was very boastful," says Chen.

Slammed in the press and accused of being a eugenicist and Nazi, Graham went on the defensive. He said while the principles of what he was doing might not be popular, they were sound. He insisted he was just trying to take advantage of the possibilities of genetics. The women came flocking.


Seventeen-year-old ballerina Courtney Ramm, agrees. Also a product of the sperm bank, she says she finds most things easy.

"In school I think I was pretty much in the top. I never found anything too challenging as a child. Everything pretty much came easy for me. But I think intelligence is not only based on your genes, I think it's also about the environment you're brought up in."

But most of the sperm bank children still remain anonymous, so no one can test to see whether Graham's experiment to breed intelligent kids using clever sperm really did work or not.

Horizon: The Genius Sperm Bank will be broadcast on Thursday 15 June at 2100 BST on BBC Two.
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