The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced on Wednesday that it purchased the printer’s manuscript of the Book of Mormon, the earliest surviving copy of the original manuscript. The LDS church purchased the text from the Community of Christ for $35 million, according to a release.
It is the highest price ever paid for a manuscript, edging out Bill Gates’ purchase of the the Leonardo da Vinci Codex Leicester for just under $31 million in 1994.
Historian John Hajicek told The Salt Lake Tribune that acquiring its founding document is a “game-changer” for the Mormon church.
“I think of it similarly as if the United States had an opportunity to buy its Constitution back from another country,” Hajicek, of the website mormonism.com, told the LDS-owned Deseret News.
The first edition of the Book of Mormon was released in 1830, and the printer’s manuscript was the guide by which the book’s type was set. Though less than 30 percent of the original manuscript exists, the printer’s copy is almost complete, according to the Community of Christ.
The money for the purchase was provided by anonymous donors, according to the Community of Christ. Mormon church officials did not confirm the purchase price, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.
The Community of Christ has had the printer’s manuscript since 1903. The Community of Christ, formerly known as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, formed after Smith’s death in 1844.