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Most Expensive Book Ever Sold

There is irony in the backstory of the most expensive book ever sold, which is the Codex Leicester. It is a journal-style collection of musings and scientific writings by the world’s most famous renaissance man, Leonardo da Vinci.

Inventor, painter, scientist, philosopher and all-around think tank also filled the pages with drawings of diagrams and objects to support his work. The raw sketches of the man who painted the Mona Lisa is certainly a prize—one worth just over $30 million back in 1994! Christie’s sold the book to oft-richest-man-in-the-world Bill Gates.

Of course, therein lies the irony. One of the most famous names in computers and technology—the very devices that have cut the paper publishing industry down over the years owns the most expensive book ever sold. In truth, the Codex is more of a loosely-bound journal. It consists of only 18 sheets of paper folded in half.

Gate immediately took the opportunity to use the fantastic images and notes (which were in Italian) and scanned the Codex to reproduce it electronically for distribution. Initially, he didn’t release a full version of the book. Instead, individual pages were used as screen savers and wallpapers for Windows 95.

A few years later, a full CD-ROM of the book was released to the public. Today, the Codex Leicester is a museum artifact. It has been taken apart (carefully, of course) and placed in glass panes so that pages can viewed and displayed separately. It has toured the world for over a decade now, most recently having a long sting at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

If you would like to see it in person, it’ll be on loan to the North Carolina Museum of Art from Halloween of this year to January 17, 2016.