Just before the Sotheby’s auction of Michael and Judy Steinhardt’s collection of Judaica began this morning, Sotheby’s announced that the highlight of the collection, the illuminated Mishneh Torah, was acquired jointly by The Israel Museum in Jerusalem and the Metropolitan Museum of Art here. This is the first significant collaboration between the two institutions.
While Sotheby’s didn’t release the amount of the private sale, a source close to the transaction confirmed that it was within the estimate, which had been given at $4.5 million to $6 million.
The Mishneh Torah, completed circa 1457 in Northern Italy, is one of the finest illuminated Hebrew manuscripts ever created. This profusely illustrated hand-written copy of Maimonides’ systematic code of Jewish law was originally conceived in two volumes; the first part is now in the collection of the Vatican.
In a statement, Michael Steinhardt commented, “The acquisition of this remarkable manuscript by the Israel Museum and The Metropolitan Museum of Art is poetic given Judy’s and my longstanding involvement with both institutions.”
The remainder of the Sotheby’s auction is proceeding today, with the last viewing session at 2 p.m.