On This Day, December 12th
1. 1980: Armand Hammer bought Da Vinci’s manuscript for $5 million
It was on this date in 1980 that Armand Hammer purchased one of Leonardo da Vinci’s original notebooks at the Christie’s auction in London for $5,126,000. The notebook was previously owned by the Earl of Leicester and his family for over 200 years and eventually was called the Leicester Codex. It contained illustrations and notes from Leonardo da Vinci himself back in the early 1500’s. There was a common theme throughout and that’s water. He looked at every aspect of water, how it moved, how it could be used etc. Most of the text in the notebook was written in da Vinci’s favorite style of writing from left to right in a mirrored technique. When I heard the name Armand Hammer I assumed it was associated with the Arm & Hammer brand name. However, it turns out that wasn’t the case. While Hammer once owned a significant amount of stock in the brand, it was around long before he was born. Hammer actually made a name for himself as an oil tycoon for the Occidental Petroleum Corportaion. He decided to rename the notebook Hammer Codex for the time he owned it. But when it was sold in 1994 to an “anonymous bidder” that later turned out to be Bill Gates for a record $30.8 million the name was changed back to Leicester Codex.
2. 1901: The first transatlantic wireless transmission
Guglielmo Marconi sent the Morse code signal for the letter “s” from Cornwall England to Newfoundland Canada on this date in 1901 using a wireless radio transmission. this was the first time anything like this had been done before. Naysayers felt that because of the curvature of the earth the farthest you could send a signal of that kind was at best 200 miles. Marconi, however, managed to pull it off at well over 2,000 miles. He had studied physics at a young age and was interested specifically in the transmission of radio waves. He played a major part in the development and innovations in radio transmission for the next 30 years and even was jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in physics in 1909.
3. 1913: The Mona Lisa recovered
It was on this date in 1913 that the Mona Lisa was discovered in the hotel room of former Louvre employee Vincenzo Peruggia’s hotel room after it had been missing for over two years. Peruggia was part of the crew that dressed as janitors back in August of 1911 and pulled off the heist of the century. The Mona Lisa was, and still is, considered to be one of the most iconic, famous, and influential paintings of all-time. Its creator, Leonardo da Vinci, is one of the great Italian painters of all-time. He made it as a portrait back in 1504 of the wife of Francesco del Gioconda, a wealthy citizen of Florentine. After recovering the famous painting it was returned back to the Louvre where it has remained on display under bulletproof glass ever since. Peruggia was sentenced to 14 months in jail for his involvement.