Europe is still suffering from harsh austerity measures and international youth unemployment is in double digits, but the luxury goods market is alive and well. Today, America’s first printed book will become the world’s most expensive, joining a list of superlatively ranked objects that have recently broken bidding records at auction houses across the globe.
The Whole Book of Psalmes was published in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1640 and is expected to sell for a sum between $15 million and $30 million at a Sotheby’s auction on Tuesday. The Old South Church decided to sell the hymn book last December in order to raise funds for the church, opting to part ways with one of their two copies of the book. Just 11 of 1,700 original editions survive and the last time a copy was sold — in a 1947 auction — it netted $151,000.
The Bay Psalm Book (as it is alternately called) auction takes place just days after a dozen bottles of Romanee-Conti wine were sold for a record $474,000 at Christie’s International in Hong Kong. Earlier this month, a 59.60-carat pink diamond sold for a record $83 million in a Sotheby’s auction in Geneva, and a Francis Bacon triptych became the most expensive work of art to be sold at auction when it brought in $142.4 million in a Christie’s auction in New York.