Below is a list of the 10 most expensive books in the world, as well as the price at which they were sold last.
1. The Codex Leicester – $30.8 Million
In 1994, Billionaire Bill Gates bought this book for $30.8 million, making The Codex Leicester the most expensive book ever sold. The Codex Leicester is a collection of largely scientific writings of Leonardo da Vinci. This book got its name when Gates renamed it from its original “Codex Hammer”, attributed to its previous owner – philanthropist Armand Hammer.
2. The Gospels of Henry the Lion – £8.14 million
Sold for £8.14 million in 1983, the Gospels of Henry the Lion is a manuscript featuring as the second most expensive book in the world. This manuscript contains 266 pages including the text of the four gospels, with 50 pages full of illustrations. This book is kept at the Herzog August Bibliothek, Wolfenbuttel.
3. The Canterbury Tales - £4.6 million
Sold in London in 1998, The Canterbury Tales is third on the list of the world’s most expensive books, retailing at £4.6 million. This book is a collection of stories authored by Geoffrey Chaucer in the 14th century – 2 of which are in prose, while the rest appear in verse.
4. The Gutenberg Bible – $5.39 million
Fourth on the list of the world’s most expensive books is The Gutenberg Bible which was sold in London in 1987 for $5.39 million. This book is one of the very first books to be printed by Johan Gutenberg and Johan Fust in 1455, and is one of only five complete examples in the US.
5. The Northumberland Bestiary – £2.7 million
The Northumberland Bestiary is the fifth most expensive book in the world which was sold in 1990 for £2.7 million. This book was part of one of the most important traditions of medieval England, serving as the most famous picture book of its time.
6. Autographed Manuscript of the Nine Symphonies by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – £2,292,993
Sixth on the list of the most expensive books in the world is the Autographed Manuscript of the Nine Symphonies by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, which was sold in 1987 for £2,292,993. This manuscript features some of classical composer Mozart’s famous symphonies and holds the record for the most expensive music manuscript in the world.
7. The Birds of America – $3.6 million
Coming in at number seven on the list of the most expensive books in the world is The Birds of America which was sold in 1989 for $3.6 million. This book was authored by naturalist and painter John James Audubon and contains special paintings. The Birds of America holds the record for the most expensive book on natural history.
8. Hebrew Bible – £1.85 million
Sold in 1989 for £1.85 million, the Hebrew Bible is the eighth most expensive book ever sold. The Hebrew Bible is a generic reference to the books of the bible which was written originally in the Hebrew and Aramaic languages. It currently holds the record for the most expensive Hebrew manuscript.
9. The Monypenny Breviary – £1.7 million
Ninth on the list of the most expensive books is the Monypenny Breviary which was sold for £1.7 million in 1989. The Monypenny Breviary is an illuminated manuscript whose authorship dates back to c. 1490-95. This book holds the record for the most expensive French manuscript ever sold.
10. The Hours and Psalter of Elizabeth de Bohum – £1.4 million
Last on the list of the 10 most expensive books in the world is the book titled The Hours and Psalter of Elizabeth de Bohum, which was sold for £1.4 million in 1988. This book is attributed to Elizabeth de Bohum, the Countess of Northampton, c. 1340-45.