News & Politics

Someone Paid $100,000 for a Book Owned by Ruth Bader Ginsburg

It was part of a huge auction of items from her personal library.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg's official portrait in 2016. Photography courtesy of the Supreme Court of the United States

Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s personal library was recently sold off in an online auction conducted by Bonhams, and interest in the collection was apparently intense. The auction house says the sale attracted the largest number of bidders of any auction in its history, either online or in-person. Though the entire collection had been estimated to go for just $2,500 to $3,500, it ended up selling for more than $2.3 million.

The sale consisted of 164 items, including signed first-edition books, honorary degrees, and course texts from classes Ginsburg herself took. Here’s a look at a few notable pieces—along with what they each sold for.

Photo courtesy of Bonhams.

Annotated personal copy of the 1957-58 Harvard Law Review

Notable because: It contains handwritten notes from the year Ginsburg spent on the Harvard Law Review.

What it sold for: A whopping $100,312.50, making it the highest priced item by far.

Personal copy of My Own Words, a collection of her writing

Notable because: The book is a carefully curated selection of Ginsburgs writings, speeches, and thoughts from throughout her life. This was a copy that she owned, complete with her personal bookplate.

What it sold for: $81,562.50. A seven-volume set collecting her opinions also went for a hefty sum: $35,312.50.

Photo courtesy of Bonhams.

Inscribed copy of Toni Morrison’s Beloved

Notable because: Morrison herself gave this signed copy to Ginsburg and her husband. Both Ginsburg and Morrison are alums of Cornell and have residence halls named after them.

What it sold for:$31,562.50.

Photo courtesy of Bonhams.

Sheet music for the song “I’ll Fight” from the movie RBG, inscribed to Ginsburg by the songwriter, Diane Warren

Notable because: The 2018 documentary told Ginsburg’s life story. Both the film and Warren’s song—recorded for the soundtrack by Jennifer Hudson—were nominated for Academy Awards.

What it sold for: $35,312.50.

Inscribed copy of Antonin Scalia’s Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts

Notable because: Their famous friendship is reflected in the inscription: “With respect and warm regards.”

What it sold for: $15,300.

Though the auction is now over, you can still admire the rest of the items over on the Bonhams site.

Tori Bergel
Editorial Fellow