Man Utd gets into the record books with $1.6m book

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The Independent Online

A book on the history and exploits of Manchester United set a world record price for a sporting publication last week when it was sold for $1.6m (£800,000).

The sum was paid for the Manchester United Opus – a huge tome published by the London-based company Kraken Sport & Media and signed by the Prime Minister and ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum. It was sold at a charity auction in the sheikhdom.

The book itself measures half a metre square, weighs over 35kg and runs to over 400,000 words. It was bought by a group of businessmen from Dubai. The previous record for a sporting publication was $1.1m.

The number 777 – Sheikh Rashid's favourite number and considered extremely lucky in Arabic culture – was sewn into the inside of the book.

Sheikh Rashid, who attended yesterday's table-topping match between Arsenal and Man Utd, is chairman of the Emirates Group, which sponsors the north London side.

Kraken, founded by former Goldman Sachs trader Karl Fowler, has also produced Opus books on Arsenal and the NFL. Titles on Argentine footballing legend Maradona, Celtic and Formula One are currently in production. Each copy typically sells for £3,000 to £4,000.

The world record price for a single copy of a book was achieved by Leonardo da Vinci's Codex Leicester, a notebook filled with the Renaissance painter's original drawings, notes and sketches, when it was sold to Microsoft founder Bill Gates for $30.8m in 1994. The most expensive printed book on record is Audubon's Birds of America, which sold in 2000 for $8.8m.

Earlier this year, the British entrepreneur Roger Shashoua said he planned to sell a diamond-encrusted book on how he made a fortune in Russia for £3m a copy, with billionaire oligarchs the target market.