Draft of 1917 Balfour Declaration Sells at Auction for $900,000

Only known surviving handwritten draft of declaration of British support for Jewish state was bought by anonymous buyer.

A draft of the Balfour Declaration, the 1917 document in which Britain expressed support for a Jewish state, sold for $884,000 in an auction at Sotheby's on Thursday in New York.

The identity of the buyer, a collector bidding over the phone, was not disclosed.

The draft was written by Leon Simon, an English Zionist leader, at a July 17, 1917 meeting at London's Imperial Hotel.

The document is the only known surviving handwritten draft of the declaration, Sotheby's said. Written on hotel stationery, it reads:

"H(is) M(ajesty's) G(overnment) accepts the principle that P(alestine) should be reconstituted as the Nat(ional) Home of the J(ewish) P(eople). HMG will use its best efforts to secure the achievement of this object, and will discuss the necessary methods and means with the Z(ionist) O(rganization)."

The Balfour Declaration was issued November 2, 1917, by British foreign secretary Arthur Balfour. It was a significant cause of the subsequent waves of Jewish immigration to the British mandate of Palestine, after the British army conquered the region from the Ottoman Empire.