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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

December 12th...This Day in History

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 Da Vinci notebook sells for over 5 million 1980
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On this day in 1980, American oil tycoon Armand Hammer pays $5,126,000 at auction for a notebook containing writings by the legendary artist Leonardo da Vinci.
The manuscript, written around 1508, was one of some 30 similar books da Vinci produced during his lifetime on a variety of subjects. It contained 72 loose pages featuring some 300 notes and detailed drawings, all relating to the common theme of water and how it moved. Experts have said that da Vinci drew on it to paint the background of his masterwork, the Mona Lisa. The text, written in brown ink and chalk, read from right to left, an example of da Vinci’s favored mirror-writing technique. The painter Giuseppi Ghezzi discovered the notebook in 1690 in a chest of papers belonging to Guglielmo della Porto, a 16th-century Milanese sculptor who had studied Leonardo’s work. In 1717, Thomas Coke, the first earl of Leicester, bought the manuscript and installed it among his impressive collection of art at his family estate in England.
More than two centuries later, the notebook–by now known as the Leicester Codex–showed up on the auction block at Christie’s in London when the current Lord Coke was forced to sell it to cover inheritance taxes on the estate and art collection. In the days before the sale, art experts and the press speculated that the notebook would go for $7 to $20 million. In fact, the bidding started at $1.4 million and lasted less than two minutes, as Hammer and at least two or three other bidders competed to raise the price $100,000 at a time. The $5.12 million price tag was the highest ever paid for a manuscript at that time; a copy of the legendary Gutenberg Bible had gone for only $2 million in 1978. “I’m very happy with the price. I expected to pay more,” Hammer said later. “There is no work of art in the world I wanted more than this.” Lord Coke, on the other hand, was only “reasonably happy” with the sale; he claimed the proceeds would not be sufficient to cover the taxes he owed.
Hammer, the president of Occidental Petroleum Corporation, renamed his prize the Hammer Codex and added it to his valuable collection of art. When Hammer died in 1990, he left the notebook and other works to the Armand Hammer Museum of Art and Cultural Center at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). Several years later, the museum offered the manuscript for sale, claiming it was forced to take this action to cover legal costs incurred when the niece and sole heir of Hammer’s late wife, Frances, sued the estate claiming Hammer had cheated Frances out of her rightful share of his fortune. On November 11, 1994, the Hammer Codex was sold to an anonymous bidder–soon identified as Bill Gates, the billionaire founder of Microsoft–at a New York auction for a new record high price of $30.8 million. Gates restored the title of Leicester Codex and has since loaned the manuscript to a number of museums for public display.


(More Events on This Day in History)

American Revolution
1787 Pennsylvania ratifies the Constitution

Automotive
2000 GM announces phase-out of Oldsmobile

Civil War
1806 Stand Watie born

Cold War
1987 Shultz calls on European allies to increase defense spending

Crime
1989 The Queen of Mean is sentenced to the slammer
1997 A young murderer is indicted

Disaster
1917 French soldiers killed in train accident

General Interest
1901 Marconi sends first Atlantic wireless transmission
1913 Mona Lisa recovered in Florence
1917 Father Flanagan establishes Boys Town
1937 USS Panay sunk by Japanese

Hollywood
1967 Hepburn, Tracy and Poitier star in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

Literary
1821 Flaubert is born

Music
1970 “Tears Of A Clown” gives Smokey Robinson & The Miracles their first #1 pop hit, finally

Old West
1929 Cattle pioneer Charles Goodnight dies

Presidential
1963 JFK memorial album sets record for sales

Sports
1965 NFL rookie Gale Sayers ties single-game TD record

Vietnam War
1968 Procedural questions cause difficulty at the peace talks
1969 Philippine soldiers depart South Vietnam

World War I
1914 Stocks tank as NYSE trading resumes

World War II
1941 United States seizes French liner Normandie