The Mishneh Torah was withdrawn from a recent Sotheby’s sale at the eleventh hour after vendors Michael and Judy Steinhard struck a private treaty sale with The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
One of the finest illuminated Hebrew manuscripts ever created, the Torah was completed c.1457 in Northern Italy. The text, authored by Moses Maimonides, the supreme Jewish writer and philosopher of the Middle Ages, is a synthesis of Jewish law and is here coupled with a magnificent series of illustrations, one of which is pictured here.
It was originally conceived in two volumes; the first part comprising books I-V, is now in the Vatican while the present volume, consisting of books VII-XIV, features six full-page illuminated illustrations as well as 41 initial word panels, images and marginal illuminations.
The price paid jointly by the Israel Museum and The Metropolitan Museum of Art is confidential, but is thought to be significantly in excess of the current record for Judaica at auction which was set in 1989 at Sotheby's London when a Hebrew Bible sold for $2.9m.
The Mishneh Torah had been due to appear at the auction on April 29.