My Executive


    Nov 28, 2013

    Going, going, gone: Record $18m for printed book


    THE first book written in what is today the United States of America fetched US$14.2 million (S$17.8 million) in New York on Tuesday, becoming the world's most expensive printed book sold at auction.

    The translation of Biblical psalms, The Bay Psalm Book, was printed by Puritan settlers in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1640.

    It was sold at a one-lot auction in just minutes by Sotheby's.

    Bidding opened at US$6 million and closed swiftly at a hammer price of US$12.5 million, rising to US$14.165 million once the buyer's premium was incorporated.

    The book, with its browning pages and gilt edges, was displayed in a glass case behind the auctioneer to a relatively small crowd that attended the less-than-five-minute auction.

    The settlers, who came to America to seek religious freedom, had set about making their own preferred translation from the Hebrew original of the Old Testament book after arriving from Europe.

    Sotheby's named the buyer as Mr David Rubenstein, the billionaire American financier and philanthropist. He was in Australia and his bid was conducted by telephone.

    The world's most expensive manuscript, the handwritten Codex Leicester - 72 pages of largely scientific writings by Leonardo da Vinci - was bought by Bill Gates in 1994 for US$30.8 million.