Last June 17th, the British Guiana 1¢ Magenta was put on auction at Sotheby’s in New York. This stamp is considered by many to be the world’s rarest. Well, if we look at the British Guiana in terms of monetary value, this stamp is now definitely the most valuable, since its selling price has just set a new world record.
The record-shattering amount of US$9.48 million was the winning bid. The stamp was sold over the phone to a bidder who chooses to remain anonymous. Even though the identity of the buyer is still unknown, the auctioneer Mr. Redden made the following comment, “I can only say that given who the buyer is, we will be seeing more of this stamp in the future.” And when asked if the buyer was a collector or an investor he replied, “Oh, a collector.”
The stamp was sold by the estate of previous owner John E. du Pont. The infamous du Pont died in jail in 2010, after being convicted of the murder of his friend Dave Schultz, an Olympic champion freestyle wrestler. A part of the sum from the sale will go to charity. Du Pont acquired the stamp in 1980 for $935,000, which was also set a record at the time.
The British Guiana sold for almost exactly 10 times more than its selling price in 1980. Even after adjusting for inflation, the new price is still comes to almost double the stamp’s original 1980 price tag. The previous world record for the sale of a stamp belonged to an 1855 Swedish stamp which sold for $2.3 million dollars in 1996. Sotheby’s was expecting to sell the British Guiana for anywhere between $10 million and $20 million, which isn’t very far from the $9.48 million it actually grossed. That tells us that the philatelic market is very strong right now, hooray!