Ancient Hebrew Bible Sells For $38m In New York Auction

In a momentous event that captivated the world, an extraordinary artifact steeped in history and religious significance, the Codex Sassoon, has set a new record at an astonishing $38 million in an exhilarating auction held in the bustling city of New York. This 1,100-year-old Hebrew Bible, cherished as one of the oldest surviving biblical manuscripts, found its new home through the philanthropic endeavors of former US ambassador to Romania, Alfred H Moses, on behalf of the American Friends of ANU. Moses generously donated this precious treasure to the ANU Museum of the Jewish People in Tel Aviv, adding yet another magnificent gem to its illustrious collection. The Codex Sassoon, an exquisite leather-bound volume, beautifully handwritten on parchment, contains a near-complete Hebrew Bible. Prior to the auction, this remarkable manuscript embarked on a global journey, captivating audiences with its antiquity and splendor during a captivating exhibition at the ANU Museum. The subsequent sale of this sacred text for such an unprecedented sum reaffirms the profound power, influence, and significance of the Hebrew Bible—an indelible pillar of humanity's shared heritage. Sotheby’s Judaica specialist, Sharon Liberman Mintz, beaming with delight, proclaimed that the staggering price tag of $38 million, inclusive of the auction house's fee, reflects the unwavering reverence and importance attributed to this ancient manuscript. Indeed, this momentous sale now stands as one of the highest prices ever achieved for a manuscript at auction, joining the ranks of renowned artifacts such as the rare copy of the US Constitution, which fetched $43 million in 2021, and Leonardo da Vinci's Codex Leicester, which commanded an impressive $31 million in 1994 (equivalent to approximately $60 million today). The story of the Codex Sassoon is one of intrigue and wanderings. Crafted between the years 880 and 960, this sacred manuscript acquired its moniker in 1929 when it was acquired by David Solomon Sassoon, scion of an esteemed Iraqi Jewish business family known for their passion for collecting Jewish manuscripts. After changing hands several times, the Codex Sassoon was acquired by Jacqui Safra, a distinguished banker and avid art collector, in 1989 for a significant sum of $3.19 million ($7.7 million in today’s dollars). Safra, recognizing the importance of preserving this invaluable piece of history, proudly placed it on the auction block, paving the way for its triumphant return to its spiritual homeland. With this momentous transaction, the Codex Sassoon will soon grace the ANU Museum in Tel Aviv, serving as a captivating testament to the resilience and enduring legacy of the Hebrew Bible. As it assumes its rightful place amongst the world's most esteemed artifacts, this ancient manuscript will undoubtedly captivate visitors from far and wide, affirming the indomitable spirit of knowledge, culture, and faith that unites us all.

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