Christie, Manson & Woods (New York)

The Leonardo da Vinci Codex Hammer : the property of the Armand Hammer Museum of Art and Cultural Center, Los Angeles, California (catalogue for an auction conducted by Christie, Manson & Woods, New York, 11 November 1994)

New York, Christie, Manson & Woods International Inc., 1994
(30.5 cm), 203 pp., illustrations. 1 lot. Errata sheet loosely inserted. Printed list of price realised. Publisher’s laminated pictorial boards. - Perhaps the most famous of Leonardo’s thirty scientific journals, as it is the only one in private hands. Acquired in Italy in 1717 by Thomas Coke, later 1st Earl of Leicester, the “Codex Leicester” remained in family possession until 1980, when consigned by the trustees of the Holkham Estate to Christie’s, London, where sold on 12 December 1980 to the art collector Armand Hammer, for £2,420,000. After the death of Armand Hammer in 1990, a dispute arose over ownership of his collections, and to recover legal costs the Armand Hammer Museum of Art and Cultural Center in Los Angeles returned the manuscript to Christie’s. At its sale in New York on 11 November 1994, the “Codex Hammer” realised $30,802,500 (about £19 million). It was bought by Bill and Melinda Gates. The sale catalogue includes facsimiles of each page of the manuscript with commentaries taken from Carlo Pedretti’s 1987 edition on facing pages; “Census of Leonardo’s manuscripts” (pp.34-39). Anna Blume, “Codex Indulgence: Leonardo's Codex Leicester and the Issue of Value” in On Paper, volume 2 (no. 2, November-December 1997), pp.16-19. ¶ Unmarked copy.