The American athlete risked his life to compete in the games ... after undergoing minor surgery for a partly collapsed lung just one week before competing -- which was said to have been brought on by a persistent cough from bronchitis and altitude changes during the cramped plane ride to Munich.
Steve went on to win the gold medalin the 4 x 200-meter freestyle relay, silver in the 200-meter freestyle, and bronze in the 400-meter freestyle.
Steven Genter told the auction house... "For most of my life, the medals represented a defining moment in time. Each medal is uniquely intertwined with the Olympic experience, making those memories lifelong. I get goosebumps every time I recall those moments."
Steve gifted the medals to help someone whom he cares deeply about, who wished to remain anonymous. This person will pocket the proceeds. The winning bidder will also get a one-on-one call with Steve.
Bobby Livingston, executive vice president at the auction house, gushed of the extraordinary narrative behind the medals ... saying they didn't just symbolize winning ... but the character and heart that defines a true champion.
The auction kick-started on Dec. 15 and will end on Jan. 18.