The first book printed in what is today the United States of America sold for $14 million at auction in New York. The book of psalms became the world's most expensive printed book, reports AFP in The Australian.
The translation of Biblical psalms, The Bay Psalm Book, was printed by Puritan settlers in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1640 and sold yesterday at a one-lot auction in just minutes by Sotheby's.
Bidding opened at $US6 million and closed swiftly at a hammer price of $12.5 million, rising to $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 who attended the less than five-minute auction in person. 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 David Rubenstein, the billionaire American financier and philanthropist. He was in Australia and his bid was conducted by telephone.
Sotheby's had valued the book at $15-30 million, but denied any disappointment in the sale price reached yesterday. David Redden, auctioneer and head of Sotheby's books said $14.165 million 'represents a new world record for any printed book'. The previous record was $11.5 million, reached when a copy of John James Audubon's 'Birds of America' sold at Sotheby's in December 2010.