Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Codex Sassoon Sells for $38m


We wrote earlier about the sale of Codex Sassoon which was billed, with some exaggeration, as the earliest, most complete copy of the Hebrew Bible. Less exaggerated, as it turns out, was the claim that it could be the most expensive book sold at auction. As of today, it can officially claim that title. 

JNS reports that it sold today for $38.1 million to the Tel Aviv ANU–Museum of the Jewish People. For comparison, the most expensive book sold at auction before today was da Vinci’s Codex Leicester which Bill Gates bought for almost $31m. I should note that this is at the short end of Sotheby’s original projection which put it at $30–50m.

From JNS:

Alfred H. Moses, a former U.S. ambassador to Romania and active member of the Georgetown Jewish community, and his family purchased the Hebrew manuscript on behalf of the American Friends of ANU and gifted it to the museum, according to a press release from the auction house. Moses is chair of the museum’s international board of governors.

“The hammer fell after a four-minute bidding battle between two determined bidders,” Sotheby’s stated.

Read the rest here

Update (5/18/23): JNS updated its story after I wrote this to correct the amount the codex sold for. They had originally said 33.5m but it was apparently 38.1.

1 comment

  1. NY Times report by Jennifer Schuessler