Just in time for Independence Day, Sotheby’s is auctioning a crucial precursor to the Bill of Rights that could sell for $5 million


The 4th of July is normally a day when Americans light fireworks, gather for barbecues and celebrate the nation’s independence from Britain. This year, Sotheby’s is offering a special historic in-store sale to add to the celebrations.

To mark the founding of the nation, the auction house is offering a rare direct precursor to the Bill of Rights, the list of 10 amendments to the US Constitution, contained in a copy of Virginia’s official ratification of the founding document. With a pre-sale estimate of between $3 and $5 million, the historic object will be on public display at Sotheby’s York Avenue Galleries in Manhattan from July 12-20, before the live auction on July 21 in New York.

Signed and dated June 1788, the document is part of the auction house’s sale of fine books and manuscripts, including Americana. It includes important passages that were brought to Congress from the concepts that would later form the backbone of the Bill of Rights, which was ratified in 1791.

“This copy of Virginia’s formal ratification of the United States Constitution is of immense significance, as it includes an enumerated proposition for a bill of rights,” says Selby Kiffer, Sotheby’s Senior International Specialist for Books and Manuscripts. . “This integral document provided a precursor for the Bill of Rights – one of the nation’s three founding documents – and solidified the nation’s future upon ratification by Virginia.”

For the past 30 years, the item was part of the collection of renowned manuscript collector David Karpeles, who died in Santa Barbara in January at the age of 86. Proceeds from the sale will benefit the museums of the Karpeles Manuscript Library, one of the largest and most important private collections of manuscripts in the world, spread across the United States

This sale follows the record auction of a first edition of the United States Constitution for $43.2 million at Sotheby’s last year. This document went viral after a group of cryptocurrency populists called ConstitutionDAO raised $46 million in less than a week to try and buy it. But billionaire art collector Ken Griffin raced to place the winning bid on the item, making it the most expensive book, manuscript, historical document or printed text ever to come to auction.

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