Sotheby has sold a 710-year-old copy of the Magna Carta, the world's first declaration of human rights which British medieval king, Edward I, signed in 1297, for $21.3 million.
David Rubenstein, the founder of the Carlyle Group, a global private equity investment company, bought the manuscript, which Sotheby's vice-chairman David Redden called "the birth certificate of freedom".
Magna Carta, which proclaims personal freedoms and the rule of law, is considered the historical inspiration for documents such as the US constitution and the Bill of Rights.
The document, written in Latin on vellum and bearing the wax seal of King Edward I, is the last original in private hands, and earlier belonged to Texas software billionaire Ross Perot, who acquired it in 1984 for $1.5 million.
The document was said by the auction house to be in remarkable condition for its age. The manuscript's new owner said he was just a 'temporary custodian' and would hand it back to the US National Archives in Washington, where it was displayed since 1988.
The Perot Fund will allocate the money it raised from selling the charter to medical research, the treatment of soldiers wounded in Iraq, and education projects.