Da Vinci's Notebook Sold For $5.1 Million: Here's What's In It

By | December 9, 2019

The "Codex Leicester" dates back to the 1500s

Aside from painting the Mona Lisa and designing a hang glider, what do you know about Leonardo Da Vinci? Throughout his life, the Italian artist and inventor kept detailed notes in a series of notebooks, the most desired of which is the only notebook that's ever been sold privately: the "Codex Leicester." This fascinating work of art provides unique insight into Da Vinci's creative genius as well as his startlingly inventive nature. Da Vinci's notebook sold for a record-setting price in 1980, and it's only been topping it ever since.

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Source: Wikimedia

Written around 1508, the "Codex Leicester" is one of many notebooks put together by Da Vinci around that time. Initially, it was merely a loose collection of about 300 detailed notes and drawings, many of them dealing with water and (no joke) whether or not the Moon was mostly liquid. It's not clear when Da Vinci's jumble of scattered pages were folded into booklets, but it's believed that Spanish sculptor Pompeo Leoni had something to do with its preservation toward the end of the 1500s.

From page to page, Da Vinci's work in the "Codex" changes from thoughts on science to drawings of machines to the inventor's theories. After the pages were bound, the notebook was named the "Codex Leicester" when it was owned by Earl of Leicester in 1719. 

The "Codex" was nearly lost to history

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Source: Reddit

Da Vinci's most desired notebook nearly didn’t see the 20th century. After it was bound, the "Codex" was stashed away and forgotten until 1690, when painter Giuseppi Ghezzi found it in a chest full of papers belonging to 16th-century Milanese sculptor Guglielmo della Porto. About 30 years later, it was purchased by Thomas Coke, the first earl of Leicester.