Museums buy Steinhardts’ medieval Jewish manuscript for record price

NEW YORK (JTA) — The Israel Museum in Jerusalem and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York jointly paid a record price for a copy of a medieval religious text by Rabbi Moshe Maimonides.

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The 15th-century Mishneh Torah was purchased from businessman and philanthropist Michael Steinhardt, Sotheby’s said Monday. The auction house did not divulge the exact purchasing price, but said it exceeded the $2.9 million sale in 1989 for an ancient Torah scroll.

”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; and it is particularly meaningful that this event marks the first significant collaboration between the two museums,” Steinhardt said in a statement, making a reference to his wife.

The copy of the Mishneh Torah was completed in northern Italy in 1457 and is said to be one of the finest illustrated medieval Jewish texts in existence. Sotheby’s said the rest of Steinhardt’s prized Judaica collection will go on sale later in the day.

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