One of the world’s oldest surviving biblical manuscripts, a 1,100-year-old Hebrew Bible known as the Codex Sassoon, fetched a record $38 million at a Sotheby’s auction in New York on Wednesday.Embed from Getty Images
The leather-bound, handwritten parchment volume contains a nearly complete Hebrew Bible, with only a few pages missing. It is believed to have been produced sometime between 880 and 960 in the Middle East or North Africa.
The Codex Sassoon was purchased by former U.S. Ambassador to Romania Alfred H. Moses on behalf of the American Friends of ANU and donated to ANU Museum of the Jewish People in Tel Aviv, where it will join the collection.
The museum’s director, Dan Tadmor, said the Codex Sassoon is “a priceless treasure of Jewish heritage and world culture.” He added that the museum is “deeply grateful” to Mr. Moses for his “extraordinary generosity.”
The Codex Sassoon got its name in 1929 when it was acquired by David Solomon Sassoon, a son of an Iraqi Jewish business magnate who amassed a large collection of Jewish manuscripts in his London home. After his death, his estate was broken up and the codex was sold by Sotheby’s in Zurich in 1978 to the British Rail Pension Fund for around $320,000.
The pension fund sold the codex 11 years later to Jacqui Safra, a banker and art collector, who bought it for $3.19 million. Mr. Safra was the seller on Wednesday.Embed from Getty Images
Sotheby’s Judaica specialist Sharon Liberman Mintz said the $38 million price tag, which includes the auction house’s fee, “reflects the profound power, influence, and significance of the Hebrew Bible, which is an indispensable pillar of humanity.”
It is one of the highest prices for a manuscript sold at auction. In 2021, a rare copy of the U.S. Constitution sold for $43 million. Leonardo da Vinci’s Codex Leicester sold for $31 million in 1994, or around $60 million in today’s dollars.
- 1,100-Year-Old Hebrew Bible Fetches $38 Million at NYC Auction | NBC New York | May 17, 2023
- 1,100-year-old Hebrew Bible sells for $38 million at NYC auction | ABC News | May 17, 2023
- 1,100-year-old Hebrew Bible sells for $38M at auction in New York | Yahoo News | May 17, 2023