Financier pays $2 million for Emancipation Proclamation

Wed Jun 27, 2012 1:04pm EDT
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By Soren Larson

(Reuters) - A copy of the Emancipation Proclamation signed by President Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War fetched just over $2 million on Tuesday in an auction won by a billionaire financier.

The winning bid from David Rubenstein, co-founder of The Carlyle Group, came just three minutes into bidding at the Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries in New York, said Seth Kaller, an agent for the seller.

Rubenstein, who was not immediately available for comment, will pay $2,085,000 including auction house commissions.

The proclamation declared slaves in the rebellious Confederate states of the South freed, and allowed black slaves in the North to join the Union Army.

Rubenstein, who was represented by a phone bidder, would announce soon whether the landmark document would be shared with the public through a loan to an institute, according to Kaller.

In 2007, Rubenstein purchased the last copy of the Magna Carta in private hands. Signed by King John of England in 1215, the document was the first to force an English king to accede to the demands of his subjects.

Rubenstein's copy is on loan to the National Archives in Washington, D.C.

According to the auction house, Lincoln signed 48 copies of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1864, which were sold for $10 each by an abolitionist charity supporting the Union war effort. Twenty six copies still exist. Most are now in public institutions. Lincoln issued the order on January 1, 1863.   Continued...