How does Forbes estimate the value of a one-of-a-kind piece of art? In this episode, we look at the only Leonardo da Vinci manuscript that is still in private hands after more than five centuries: the Codex Leicester. Back in 1994, the estate of original Forbes 400 member Armand Hammer put the Codex up for sale at Christie’s. The new buyer? None other than the country’s richest man that year: 39-year-old Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates.
At the time, Gates paid $30.8 million for it. But what is it worth today? To figure this out, we dove into the world of rare books, manuscripts and old masters’ works. To help us with our estimate, we interviewed experts, including old masters dealer Robert Simon, who has a connection not only to the Codex Leicester, but also to the “Salvator Mundi,” another Da Vinci work that is synonymous with wealth and power.