Billionaire and Carlyle Group co-founder David Rubenstein showed off one of his prized possessions today: His copy of the Magna Carta from 1297.
“For 800 years old, it looks pretty good,” he said. “Imagine how you would look if you were 800.”
The document, one of four originals remaining in the world, sits behind glass in the new David M. Rubenstein Gallery at the National Archives where the “Records of Rights” exhibition will be on permanent display.
Rubenstein bought the Magna Carta at auction in 2007 for an estimated $21 million and loaned it to the National Archives.
He spoke like an erudite scholar to journalists today, recounting the document’s storied past.
He said he’s always been something of a history buff, but as a boy “baseball and girls” were his primary avocations.
“Things I’m still interested in,” he joked.
“I take more people on tours of the National Archives than any other part of Washington,” he said, adding that he was especially delighted to show Bill Gates and Warren Buffett the Declaration of Independence. “Their jaws just drop.”
Rubenstein has also given an estimated $7.5 million to restore the Washington Monument from damage caused by the 2011 earthquake.
“It will be ready for tours in the Spring,” he said.