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'Imitation Game' Code Breaker Alan Turing's Notebook Fetches $1 Million

Bonhams auctioned the 56-page notebook, believed to be the only extensive Turing manuscript known to exist.
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/ Source: NBC News

NEW YORK — A handwritten notebook by British World War II code-breaking genius Alan Turing, whose story was portrayed into the 2014 Oscar-winning movie "The Imitation Game," has been sold for more than $1 million. Bonhams auctioned the 56-page manuscript on Monday. It's believed to be the only extensive Turing manuscript known to exist. Part of the proceeds will be donated to charity. Bonhams said the buyer wished to remain anonymous.

The notebook was written at the time the mathematician and computer science pioneer was working to crack the seemingly unbreakable Enigma codes used by the Germans throughout the war. It contains Turing's complex mathematical and computer science notations. "The Imitation Game," starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Turing, won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay.

"This is a wonderful result and a fitting testament to Alan Turing's impact and legacy," Cassandra Hatton of Bonhams said in a statement. "It has been a great privilege to have been involved in this sale and we are immensely pleased that all the people who bid for this unique item and indeed the wider public have recognized Turing's importance and place in history."

Turing's notebook dates from 1942, when he and his team of cryptanalysts were at Britain's World War II code and cypher school Bletchley Park. Turing was prosecuted for being gay at a time when it was illegal in Britain. He was convicted of indecency in 1952 and agreed to undergo hormone treatment as an alternative to imprisonment to "cure" his homosexuality. He died in 1954 of cyanide poisoning. It was ruled a suicide although his family and friends believed it might have been accidental.


—The Associated Press and NBC News staff