Thursday, 11 October 2007

Magna Carta Is Coming Up For Auction

It is the document that laid the foundation for fundamental principles of English law and it is coming up for auction.

NO, it is not Gordon Brown selling off the family treasures. The country is not that broke – yet:-)

Sotheby’s have announced plans to auction it in New York in mid-December, estimates that the document will sell for $20 million to $30 million.

It is the only copy in the United States and the only copy in private hands. Sotheby’s says the 16 others are owned by the British or Australian governments or by ecclesiastical or educational institutions in England.

Until recently, this copy was on display in the National Archives in Washington, steps from the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. But it was only on loan from a foundation controlled by the Texas billionaire Ross Perot, who bought it in 1984 for $1.5 million.

The Perot Magna Carta dates to 1297 and was endorsed by King Edward I. The National Archives said that of the 17 original versions that still exist, 4 are from the reign of John; 8 are from Henry III; and 5 are from Edward I.

Some jurists consider the Perot Magna Carta to be the most important one because it was the one that was entered into the statute books in England.

Mr. Perot, the onetime independent candidate for president of the United States, bought it from relatives of James Thomas Brudenell, the Earl of Cardigan, who led the charge of the Light Brigade in 1854, during the Crimean War. The copy was said to have been in the family’s possession since sometime in the Middle Ages.

But later generations were apparently unaware of its importance.
By the time Mr. Perot bought the copy, it had been on the market for four years, and at least one deal had fallen through before Mr. Perot came along. At the time, Mr. Perot said he was “amazed” that it had been for sale.

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