Tuesday, September 25, 2007

"What's he selling?"

The Magna Carta, a document that King George III was accused of violating and that was an inspiration for America's founding documents, is being sold . Apparently, America's only copy of the document, which dates to 1215, belongs to the Ross Perot foundation. It has been on loan to the National Archive, but the foundation has decided to take back the loan.

I saw the Magna Carta this summer while in Washington, D.C. It's faded and written in Latin (and in the type of handwriting I wouldn't be able to read even if I understood Latin), but I'm enough of a history nerd that I loved seeing a document with such significance, especially one that is nearly 800 years old.

My favorite part of the NY Times article is the last two paragraphs:

Mr. Redden arranged the Magna Carta auction quietly, so quietly that Sotheby’s did not tell its own employees why it was changing arrangements for other auctions. James Zemaitis, the director of Sotheby’s 20th-century design department, said he was asked to give up a room at Sotheby’s headquarters on York Avenue at East 72nd Street that he had reserved for a pre-auction exhibition of his own.

'All they told me was: ‘David Redden is selling this really important document, the most important document of all. Can you give up this room for us?’ ” he recalled. “And I’m like, ‘Sure, but what is he selling, the Magna Carta?''


Kellyclare said...

That's funny, loved the last line...

What, besides monetary gain, would make someone want to sell something that is so historically valuable... I hope that the new owners take the responsibility for the document and put it back on display where it belongs...

I really dont like when people take pieces of art and history home and put them on a shelf... I hope these people do the right thing.

Thought Criminal said...

See, I don't understand why you'd sell that either, especially if you're already so rich.

I'm thinking it'll wind up back at the archive, too. If nothing else because few other places would know how to care for such an old document. It's not like you can just pin it up on your wall.