Skip to main content
ad info  arts & style > artmore art stories >>
  Editions | myCNN | Video | Audio | Headline News Brief | Feedback




Ceramist Adler adds furniture to his creations

Paul Oxborough's modern paintings have Old Master's grace



Greenspan changes stance, says tax cut may help U.S. economy

Barak rules out imminent peace deal

Power-starved California seeking suppliers


4:30pm ET, 4/16










CNN Websites
Networks image

Norman Lear plans traveling show for U.S. Declaration of Independence

Hayden, left, and Lear  

June 30, 2000
Web posted at: 12:57 p.m. EDT (1657 GMT)

In this story:

Goal: 'To educate and inspire'

Only four copies in private hands

'A global outreach'


NEW YORK (CNN) -- A rare 1776 copy of the U.S. Declaration of Independence will be the focus of a traveling exhibit and patriotic show, television and movie producer Norman Lear said Friday. He and Internet entrepreneur David Hayden bought the document in an online Sotheby's auction Thursday for $8.14 million.

VideoCNN's Daryn Kagan talks on Friday to Norman Lear and David Hayden, who bought a copy of the Declaration of Independence
Real 28K 80K
Windows Media 28K 80K

VideoCNN's Daryn Kagan interviews David Redden, vice chairman of Sotheby's on Thursday
QuickTime Play
Real 28K 80K
Windows Media 28K 80K

The price was the highest ever paid in a public sale for an American historical document. It was also the highest price for anything purchased in an Internet auction, Sotheby's said.

The document, in near mint condition, is one of 25 known surviving copies of the official first printing of the Declaration adopted by the Continental Congress in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776.

"We intend to travel it across the country because it is the living document that set this nation up," Lear said in an interview with CNN. "And it lives today, and those words are for everybody. We want to remind everybody of them."

Goal: 'To educate and inspire'

Lear said that under the auspices of his foundation and advocacy group, People for the American Way, the document would be used in a patriotic "theatrical event" to help "educate and inspire" Americans about the political process.

"Instead of keeping it in private hands on some wall someplace, this will travel to schools, to libraries in 50 states," Lear said.


The final bid was $7.4 million in bidding that extended more than 45 minutes beyond the scheduled deadline of 5 p.m. EDT. With a flat 10 percent commission on its Internet sales, Sotheby's total price came to $8,140,000.

The bidding on began at 9 a.m. with an opening bid of $4 million. Lear and Hayden engaged in back-and-forth bids with only one other competitor until 5:47:59 p.m. when the hammer fell on the 29th and final bid.

Under Sotheby's online auction rules, when a bid comes in within the last five minutes of the sale deadline, the auction clock automatically extends for 10-minute periods until no more bids are offered.

Only four copies in private hands

The document is one of only four Declaration copies in private hands; the other three have been promised to public institutions.

Twenty-one existing copies already belong to universities, historical societies, public libraries, and city halls.

The National Archives has a copy, along with the original handwritten parchment version that is on display in Washington, D.C.

The document sold Thursday wasn't discovered until 1989, when a Philadelphia man bought a $4 picture at a flea market. He found the document in between a painting and the back of the frame and took it to Sotheby's, which originally auctioned it in 1991 for $2.4 million -- the previous record for an American historical document.

The Declaration buyer from nine years ago -- Visual Equities, a fine art investment firm -- was Thursday's seller. The document had failed to sell at auction in 1995.

'A global outreach'

Lear has produced numerous hit TV shows, including "All in the Family," "One Day At A Time," "Good Times," and "Maude," and has been the executive producer of such movies as "Fried Green Tomatoes" and "The Princess Bride."

Hayden is chairman of Critical Pass Inc., a wireless messaging company founded in 1997. He was previously a founder of the company that created Magellan, an Internet search engine.

"It's an extraordinary commentary on what the Internet can do," said Hayden of his online purchase, "opening the crossroads around the world for communication between all people."

"The Internet represents a global outreach of communication, and that this document represents the first incredible statement of democracy and liberty in the world is a great -- it's ironic, but it's also a great, momentous convergence of two things happening," Hayden said in the interview with CNN.

The highest known purchase price for any historical document is $30.8 million for Leonardo Da Vinci's "Codex," bought by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates at a Christie's auction in 1994.

The largest known financial transaction over the Internet is last year's $40 million purchase of a new Gulfstream V jet by Mark Cuban, Internet entrepeneuer and owner of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks.

Sotheby's had predicted that Thursday's sale would bring in between $4 million and $6 million.

Yahoo disputes French order on Nazi memorabilia
June 19, 2000
Seven ways to be an online-auction champ
May 19, 2000

  •  Auction Online Highlight - Declaration of Independence

Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.

Back to the top  © 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.