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The World’s 10 Most Expensive Books Ever Sold

1. Codex Leicester Leonardo da Vinci ($49.4 mil 1, 1994)

Bill Gates bought this handwritten notebook of scientific musings.

2. The Gospels of Henry the Lion Order of St. Benedict ($28 mil, 1983)

The German government owns this 12th-century work commissioned by the Duke of Saxony.

3. Magna Carta ($24.5 mil, 2007)

One of just 17 surviving 12th-century versions passed from one American billionaire (Ross Perot) to another (Carlyle Group cofounder David Rubenstein).

4. St. Cuthbert Gospel ($15.1 mil, 2011)

The Jesuits sold this 7th-century work–interred alongside St. Cuthbert in 698 and unearthed in 1104–to the British Library.

5. Bay Psalm Book ($14.5 mil, 2013)

Rubenstein bought one of 11 surviving copies of this 1640 book.

6. The Rothschild Prayerbook($13.9 mil, 2014)

Medieval devotional book of hours originally part of a collection confiscated by the Nazis in 1938.

7. Birds of America John James Audubon ($12.6 mil, 2010)

Hundreds of drawings produced in the 1820s; sold to London art dealer Michael Tollemache.

8. The Canterbury Tales Geoffrey Chaucer ($11.1 mil, 1998)

Produced by William Caxton, reputedly England’s first printer.

9. Copy of the Constitution, Bill of Rights and other key acts of the first Congress in 1789 George Washington ($10.2 mil, 2012)

Sold to the Mount Vernon Ladies Association, a nonprofit that owns Washington’s Virginia estate.

10. Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies (1623), The First Folio William Shakespeare ($8.2 mil, 2001)

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