550-year-old Jewish holy book Mishneh Torah - which was expected to make $5m at auction - bought by museums in New York and Jerusalem
Collection of Jewish artefacts being sold off by hedge fund manager Michael Steinhardt
A 550-year-old Jewish holy book expected to reach around $5 million at auction has been bought in a private sale by two museums in Jerusalem and New York.
The copy of the Mishneh Torah, from Italy around 1457, is an early copy of the code of Jewish law assembled by Maimonides.
On the morning of the planned auction at Sotheby's in New York, The Israel Museum and The Metropolitan Museum of Art announced its joint acquisition.
Sotheby's declined to say how much the lot fetched, beyond that it was more than the $2.9 million (£1.8 million) paid for a Hebrew Bible in 1989 at Sotheby's London, which set an auction record for a Jewish artefect.
The book had an estimate of $4.5 million to $6 million (£2.8 million to £3.9 million) before auction, and was part of a collection of Jewish artefacts, or Judaica, expected to reach $11 million (£7 million) at Sotheby's. The collection belongs to philanthropist and former hedge fund manager Michael Steinhardt and his wife, Judy.
Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, said: “We are pleased and proud to collaborate with the Israel Museum on acquiring such a rare and important manuscript for both of our institutions. The Mishneh Torah is a justly celebrated work that attests to the refined aesthetic sensibility of members of Italy’s Jewish community as well as to the opulence of North Italian book decoration in the 15th century."
And Mr Steinhardt, 72, said: “We could not be happier that this rare and remarkable manuscript will be in the care of the Israel Museum and The Metropolitan Museum of Art in perpetuity.
"One of the world’s most significant Hebrew manuscripts, the Mishneh Torah will add important new dimensions to both collections - and its shared homes in New York and Jerusalem will ensure the broadest public engagement with the work. Judy and I are also delighted for our role within the group of donors who are making this key acquisition possible.”
The 385 other lots cover seven centuries of Jewish culture and come from around the world. Many items are estimated at less than $10,000.
In the press release, Sotheby’s calls the sale “the most significant collection of Judaica to be offered at auction in half a century.”
- 1 Thailand deaths: Pair's bloodied bodies found naked on Koh Tao beach
- 2 Scottish independence: Ireland since 1919 is a lesson for Scotland in what a Yes vote means
- 3 Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
- 4 John Travolta addresses former pilot's gay romance allegations publicly for the first time
- 5 Kanye West stops concert after two fans don't stand up - doesn't realise one is in wheelchair and the other disabled
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Scottish independence: Yes campaign feels the heat as Alex Salmond's NHS claims come under furious attack
Portuguese academic says British are 'filthy, violent and drunk'
£23m Birmingham cycle scheme is attacked by Tory councillor for not catering to the elderly
£35000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior QA Engineer (Agil...
£26000 - £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Digital Marketing Executive (SEO, PP...
£40000 - £50000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our retail client ...
£400 - £450 Per Annum possibly more for the right candidate: Clearwater People...