American philanthropist and businessman David Rubenstein purchased the Bay Psalm Book at an auction last week. The book is one of only 11 surviving copies of the first book ever printed in America. It sold for a record $14.2 million at Sotheby's in New York. The purchase set a new world record for the highest auction price ever paid for any book.
According to Sotheby’s, Rubenstein will loan the book to libraries across the country before finally being put on a long-term loan to a library of Rubenstein's choosing, which has yet to be determined.
“We are thrilled that this book, which is so important to our history and culture, is destined to be widely seen by Americans who can appreciate its singular significance,” said David Redden, chairman of Sotheby’s books department.
“We are of course also thrilled to have achieved a new world auction record price for any printed book, which affirms that books remain a vital part of our culture,” he added in a statement.
The Bay Psalm was printed in1640 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and is one of the rarest books in the world and among the finest surviving copies of original 1,700 that were printed, according to a statement from Sotheby's.
The book, purchased by Rubenstein, is also the first copy to be sold since 1947. That copy set an auction record for a book at that time, having sold for $151,000.
The book was auctioned at Soeby's at the behest of Boston’s Old South Church. the church voted last December to sell the book, which was done to cover the cost of building repairs and to fund its ministry.