Magna Carta sold for $21.32m in New York

December 19th, 2007 - 4:14 pm ICT by admin  

London, Dec 19 (ANI): A 13th century copy of the Magna Carta, an English royal document and symbol of freedom, has been sold for 21.32 million dollars in an auction at Sothebys in New York.

Described as the most important document to come up for sale, the manuscript was acquired by David Rubenstein, founder of the private equity firm the Carlyle Group.

The sheet of animal-skin vellum is one of only 17 originals of the founding Great Charter of English liberties first signed by King John at Runnymede, near present-day Staines, Surrey, in 1215.

The Magna Carta established key elements of the rule of law, including the writ of habeas corpus, the right to a trial by jury, and the presumption of innocence before the law.

It came into being as the result of a dispute between King John and English barons, and it went some way towards limiting the authority of the king.

Clause 39 proclaims: No free man shall be taken or imprisoned or disseised or outlawed or exiled or in any way ruined, nor will we go or send against him, except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land.

Many copies of the Magna Carta were created, but over time only a few have survived. The copy that was auctioned at Sothebys entered the British law books in 1297.

The manuscript had been owned by American billionaire Ross Perot’s Perot Foundation since 1984 and was on view at the National Archives in Washington.

Rubenstein, a former deputy domestic policy adviser to President Carter, said that he would put the document back on public view at the National Archives in Washington.

I thought it was very important that the Magna Carta stay in the United States, and I was concerned the only copy in the United States might escape the United States as a result of this auction, Times Online quoted Rubenstein, as saying.

I am a person who has served in government myself. I worked in the White House as a young man. At that time I recognised the importance of these kind of documents and the importance of freedom, he added.

Proceeds of the sale will go to Perots foundation to make funds available for medical research and care for wounded military veterans. (ANI)

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