A da Vinci treasure to US

The last remaining manuscript by Leonardo da Vinci in private hands -- the so-called Codex Leicester -- has been sold to Armand Hammer, the US oil magnate, Monitor correspondent Rushworth Kidder reports. The price -- $:2.2 million ($5. 2 million) -- left observers openmouthed. It was widely thought to be worth as much as $:10 million ($23.5 million).

"I would have gone a lot higher," said a delighted Dr. Hammer after the minute-and-a-half bidding at Christie's salesroom Dec. 12 settled the price. Expected competition from Italian authorities failed to materialize -- perhaps, some think, because of the costs of the recent earthquake.

The 36-page notebook, with 360 drawings surrounded by the artist's characteristic mirror-image handwriting, will be split into single leaves (its original form) and mounted for a traveling exhibition. The notes deal with geology, hydrology, and cosmology, and are seen by scholars as of great importance in the development of leonardo's painting.

The manuscript was sold by Lord Coke, son of the sixth Earl of Leicester, after negotiations with the British government failed to settle on a price. It will join Dr. Hammer's extensive collection, destined to go to the Los Angeles County Museum.

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