Codex Leicester and Bill Gates

Codex Leicester and Bill Gates


Bill Gates bought Da Vinci's Codex Leicester in 1994 for US$30 million. A few pages were used as a screen saver on Windows 95.


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The Codex Leicester (also briefly known as Codex Hammer) is a collection of scientific writings by Leonardo da Vinci. The Codex is named after Thomas Coke, later credited to Earl of Leicester, who purchased it in 1719. The manuscript currently holds the record for the second highest sale price of any book, as it was sold to Bill Gates at Christie's auction house on 11 November 1994 in New York for US$30,802,500 (equivalent to $53,222,898.79 in 2019)

The Codex provides an insight into the inquiring mind of the definitive Renaissance artist, scientist and thinker as well as an exceptional illustration of the link between art and science and the creativity of the scientific process.

The Codex was sold to Bill Gates by Christie's auction house on 11 November 1994 in New York for US$30,802,500. After Gates acquired the Codex, he had its pages scanned into digital image files, some of which were later distributed as screen saver and wallpaper files on a CD-ROM as part of a Microsoft Plus! for Windows 95 desktop theme, which would later be included with Windows 98 and Windows ME. A comprehensive CD-ROM version (simply titled Leonardo da Vinci) was released by Corbis in 1997.

The Codex Leicester has been unbound with each page individually mounted between glass panes. It is put on public display once a year in a different city around the world. In 2000, it was displayed at Sydney's Powerhouse Museum. In 2004, it was exhibited in the Château de Chambord, and in 2005 in Tokyo. One page was exhibited at the Seattle Museum of Flight's 2006 exhibit "Leonardo da Vinci: Man, Inventor, Genius". From June to August 2007, the Codex was the centerpiece of a two-month exhibition hosted by the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin, Ireland. The Codex was on view at the Phoenix Art Museum in Phoenix, Arizona from 24 January 2015 through 12 April 2015 for the exhibition Leonardo Da Vinci's Codex Leicester and the Power of Observation. Its presentation at Phoenix Art Museum was the first time a work by the hand of Leonardo himself was on view in Arizona.

The Codex was then on view at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts in an exhibition Leonardo Da Vinci, the Codex Leicester, and the Creative Mind that opened 21 June 2015, where it remained on display until 30 August 2015. As part of the same tour, the Codex Leicester was also on display at the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh, North Carolina from 31 October 2015 to 17 January 2016.


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