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Magna Carta Saved For America - Sells For $21.3 Million
The Magna Carta, The Most Important Document Ever Offered at Auction. Issued by King Edward I in 1297. Sold for $21,321,000. © Sotheby's Images.

NEW YORK.- Tonight at Sotheby’s, in an overflowing salesroom, The Magna Carta was saved for America by David Rubenstein, who intends to place the document back on view at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. Mr. Rubenstein, who referred to the manuscript as a “beacon for freedom,” purchased the document this evening for $21,321,000.

“I have always believed that the three most important documents were the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and the Magna Carta,” said Mr. Rubenstein after the sale. “This document stands the test of time. There is nothing more important than what it represents. I am privileged to be the new owner, but I am only the temporary custodian. This is a gift to the American people. It is important to me that it stay in the United States.”

Mr. Rubenstein continued: “Today is a good day for our country. I am an American citizen; I work in Washington, D.C., 300 feet from the National Archives and I visited the Magna Carta there several times. I was moved when I saw the manuscript at Sotheby’s last night and I was concerned that the only copy that was in America would escape. I was convinced that it needed to stay here.”

Mr. Rubenstein, who worked in the White House in the Carter Administration, is a Co-Founder and Managing Director of The Carlyle Group, a global private equity firm.

David Redden, a Vice Chairman of Sotheby’s and tonight’s auctioneer, said, “The most extraordinary document in the world was placed up for auction and the most perfect outcome was achieved.”

Magna Carta is the royal document revered as the birth certificate of freedom. The iconic manuscript, dated 1297, is the original charter that enshrined the rights of man into English law, and inspired the passion for liberty that flowered in America in the 18th century and continues around the world today. It is the most famous single document in existence. Issued by King Edward I, and sealed by the king, this astonishing survivor was offered for sale by the Perot Foundation who purchased it from an English family in 1983. This medieval vellum manuscript is well-known to millions, having been on view with the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. since arriving in America more than 22 years ago.

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December 19, 2007

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