The printer’s manuscript of the Book of Mormon has been sold to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) for $35m (£26m), setting a new record for the most expensive manuscript to be sold in history. It thus beats Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates’s purchase of Leonardo da Vinci’s Codex Leicester for $30.8m in 1994. The Book of Mormon includes writings of ancient American prophets and tells of how Jesus appeared to people in America after his resurrection 2,000 years ago.
The printer’s manuscript was handwritten by a follower and was used to create the first printed edition of the Book of Mormon in 1830. It is the most complete copy of the original manuscript, Deseret News reports. Smith reportedly placed the original dictation of the Book of Mormon in the cornerstone of a house in Nauvoo, Illinois, in 1841, but that document was damaged by water.
The church purchased the printer’s manuscript from The Community of Christ, a splinter denomination of Mormonism that also considers the Book of Mormon to be a foundational text. The Community of Christ purchased a collection that included the printer’s manuscript in 1903 for $2,500. The Community of Christ – formerly the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or RLDS – plans to use proceeds of the record-setting sale to enhance retirement accounts for employees within the international network of its churches. Community of Christ boasts 250,000 members across 58 nations.