Legal History

Magna Carta Goes on Sale

Posted Sep 25, 2007 1:35 PM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A 13th-century copy of the Magna Carta, the foundation for English law, is about to go on sale. It is expected to fetch up to $30 million.

The document is the only copy in the United States and the only one that is privately owned, the New York Times reports. Billionaire and onetime presidential candidate Ross Perot controls the foundation that owns the document, although until recently it had been displayed in the National Archives in Washington, D.C.

There are only four surviving copies of the original document accepted by King John of England in 1215. Perot's version was issued by Edward I’s parliament in 1297.

Sotheby's is conducting the sale. Its vice chairman, David Redden, said in a statement that the document is “is a talisman of liberty."

Perot bought the document in 1984 for $1.5 million, the London Telegraph reports.

The foundation hopes to use funds from the sale for medical research, public education, and aid to wounded soldiers.

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