€10.5m paid for first US book

David M Rubenstein, co-founder and co-chief executive of the Carlyle Group LP, has paid $14.2m (€10.45m) at Sotheby’s in New York yesterday for The Bay Psalm Book, the highest price for a printed book at auction.

The book, the first printed in America, will be exhibited in libraries across the US, Rubenstein, whose Carlyle Group is the second-biggest manager of alternatives to stocks and bonds, said in a statement.

“I thought it was important to keep this historic American book in the country,” Rubenstein said in an emailed statement.

“I also thought I could expose more Americans to its significance — and the importance of books to our country — by having it displayed throughout the country at libraries which might not otherwise have a chance to display something quite so old and rare,” he said.

Rubenstein in 2007 paid $21.3m for a handwritten 13th century Magna Carta, also at Sotheby’s.

The document will be the centrepiece of the new David M Rubenstein Gallery at the National Archives in Washington, opening on Dec 10.

One of Rubenstein’s two copies of the Emancipation Proclamation signed by Abraham Lincoln is on loan to the White House, where it is displayed at the Oval Office.

While The Bay Psalm Book fell short of its pre-sale low estimate of $15m at Sotheby’s, its price surpassed the previous auction record for a printed book.

That was established three years ago when a copy of John James Audubon’s Birds of America sold for $11.5m.


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