A new world record has been set for the sale of a postage stamp. Not just any old stamp, but a one-of-a-kind. The 1856 British Guiana One-Cent Magenta was sold at an auction in New York for $9.48 million. The auction house, Sotheby's, said it was the fourth time the stamp has broken the record. Sotheby's vice chairman David Redden said the record would never be broken again, unless the same stamp came up for auction again. He told reporters: "That price will be hard to beat, and likely won't be exceeded unless the British Guiana itself comes up for sale again in the future." David Beech, a former curator of stamps at the British Library, compared the sale to buying the artwork the 'Mona Lisa'.
The stamp was bought by an anonymous buyer. It was previously owned by John E. du Pont, an heir to the du Pont chemical fortune. He is currently in prison for fatally shooting an Olympic champion wrestler. It was first discovered in 1873 by a 12-year-old stamp collector. He sold it a few years later for six shillings - about $50 in today's money and a tidy sum back then. It has since had a dozen owners, including the French government. Mr Redden marvelled at how sought after the stamp has become. He said: "This is the most valuable item in the world by weight. It's just a tiny piece of paper." He added he was happy that the stamp had been bought by a collector who would cherish it, and not by an investor.