After several minutes of intense bidding, the two-page document comprising a set of 13 rules to a new game invented by James Naismith in 1891 sold for $4,338,500, more than double the pre-sale estimate of $2 million and a new record for any piece of sports memorabilia ever sold at auction.
Booth is an alumnus of the University of Kansas and he and his wife were inspired to bid by lifelong Kansas basketball fan Josh Swade. Over the course of the past few weeks, Swade embarked on a mission to find the right person to help him return the Rules to Kansas, where Naismith spent the last 41 years of his life and is buried.
Naismith brought basketball to Kansas in 1898. He mentored the great Forrest “Phog” Allen, who in turn mentored Adolph Rupp and Dean Smith.
The rules were sold by the Naismith family and the proceeds of the sale will go towards the Naismith International Basketball Foundation.
Commenting after the auction, James Naismith’s grandson Ian Naismith, said. “I am thrilled and excited with today’s result. It will make a big difference to the foundation and our work with underprivileged children.”
In the same auction, Robert F. Kennedy’s copy of the Emancipation Proclamation, signed by Abraham Lincoln, set a new auction
record for any presidential document when it sold for $3,778,500, more than double its pre-sale high estimate.
The winning bid was cast by a telephone bidder who wishes to remain anonymous.
The Emancipation Proclamation is one of only twenty-five copies of the document known to survive.
Two bidders competed for Custer’s Last Flag: The Culbertson Guidon from the Battle of the Little Bighorn, which sold to an American Private Collector. The flag was consigned by the Detroit Institute of Art, where it had not been on view since 1928.
Commenting on the sale, Graham W.J. Beal, DIA director said, “ The proceeds, which can only be used to purchase art, will go towards acquiring Native American works, still to be determined.”
The swallow-tail flag was hidden under the body of a dead trooper and discovered three days after George Custer’s famed Battle of the Little Bighorn by Sergeant Ferdinand Culbertson, who was assigned to a burial party. The guidon is the only flag flown by Custer’s battalion known not to have been captured by Indian combatants after the Battle.