A stamp considered the world's rarest sold for a record $9.5 million at a New York auction Tuesday night. The 1856 British Guiana One-Cent Black on Magenta stamp was sold to an unidentified telephone bidder. The record-breaking $9.5 million stamp was previously owned by John E. du Pont, heir to his family's chemical company fortune.
Du Pont was convicted for killing Olympic wrestler David Schultz, 36, back in 1996. During his Delaware murder trial, the judge declared that du Pont was "severely mentally ill," according to The Washington Post on June 18, 2014.
John E. du Pont was an avid stamp collector, as well as a sponsor of amateur wrestling. He paid $935,000 for the rare stamp in 1980. That sale also set a new record price for a stamp at that time.
Du Pont was later convicted of murder in the death of Schultz. He died in prison in 2010. Prosecutors characterized du Pont as the wealthiest murder defendant in the history of our country.
Du Pont shot Schultz three times at point blank range, after an alleged falling out. He then barricaded himself in his mansion and held police at bay for two days before surrendering.
Court-appointed psychiatrist Steven Mechanick found du Pont had "significant delusions." One of those included thinking he was the Dalai Lama of the United States.
Du Pont inherited his Delaware Foxcatcher Farm from his mother in 1988. He later added a wrestling facility. Schultz lived in a guest house on the grounds with his wife and kids.
The previous auction record for a single stamp was a fraction of Tuesday night's record. "Treskilling Yellow" sold for $2.2 million back in 1996.
The British Guiana broke a stamp-auction world record for the fourth time in its more than century-and-half life, according to the New York Post. It hammered in 1922 for a then-record $35,000 to Utica, NY, collector Arthur Hind. It's believed Hind outbid King George V of Britain.
The stamp auctioned at a second world-record bid of $285,000 by Wilkes-Barre, Pa., collector Irwin Weinberg in 1970. That price was eclipsed by du Pont's purchase in 1980.
Last night's fourth record-setting price was below Sotheby’s pre-auction estimate of $10 million to $20 million. However, Sotheby’s vice-chairman David Redden said in a statement that he was still thrilled with the $9.5 million hammer sale.
Redden said the 9.5 million price tag will be hard to beat. And likely it won’t be exceeded unless and until the British Guiana comes up for sale once again in the future.