NYC businessman buys Christmas poem for $280K, reads it at party

A businessman paid $280,000 for an original 1860 handwritten copy of the classic holiday poem that begins “‘Twas the night before Christmas” and read it for friends at a party, an auction gallery said.

The buyer, identified only as the chief executive officer of a media company, received the copy of the poem earlier this month just in time to read it to relatives and business associates gathered at a holiday party in his Manhattan apartment, Heritage Auction Galleries president Greg Rohan said Tuesday.

Clement Clarke Moore wrote the poem, “A Visit from St. Nicholas” in 1822. He wrote and signed the 1860 copy for an acquaintance. Three other copies in his writing are known to exist, but those are in Museum collections, Rohan said.

The poem begins:

“‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house,

“Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;

“The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,

“In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.”

The copy that was sold to the media CEO had been in the hands of a private collector, the Dallas-based gallery served as an intermediary in the sale.

Partygoers who listened to the new owner’s poetic recitation “couldn’t believe it” said Rohan, who personally delivered the poem in a protective plastic sleeve. “They thought it was the coolest thing that was” he said. Rohan said the poem’s new owner planned to “keep it forever” and maybe exhibit it publicly for Christmas 2007.