The world’s oldest near-complete Hebrew Bible dating back 1,100 years sold for $38.1 million at an auction in New York.
The winning £30 million bid for the Codex Sassoon was made by Alfred H. Moses, who will be giving it to the ANU Museum of Jewish People in Tel Aviv, Israel.
Before it went up for auction the manuscript was exhibited at the ANU Museum.
The price surpasses the $30.8 million (£25 million) paid for Leonardo da Vinci’s Codex Leicester manuscript in 1994.
But it sold below the estimated price of $50 million that auctioneers at Sotheby’s predicted it would sell for in February.
The current world record for any book or document sold is a first edition of the US constitution which sold for $43.2 million (£34 million) in 2021.
Sharon Liberman Mintz from Sotheby’s said the price tag, which includes the auction house’s fee, ‘reflects the profound power, influence, and significance of the Hebrew Bible, which is an indispensable pillar of humanity’.
Ms Mintz said she was ‘absolutely delighted by today’s monumental result and that Codex Sassoon will shortly be making its grand and permanent return to Israel, on display for the world to see’.
According to the auction house, it has long been a ‘foundational cornerstone to civilisations and communities around the globe’ and is arguably the most influential book in human history.
The Codex Sassoon got its name in 1929 when it was bought by David Solomon Sassoon, who filled his London home with Jewish manuscripts.
After he died the biblical manuscript was sold by Sotheby’s in Zurich in 1978 to the British Rail Pension Fund for about $320,000 (£256,000).
It was then sold 11 years later to Jacqui Safra, a banker and art collector who bought it in 1989 for $3.19 million (£2.5 million) and was its most recent owner.
Composed of 24 books divided into three parts – the Pentateuch, the Prophets and the Writings – the Hebrew Bible makes up the foundation for Judaism as well as the other Abrahamic faiths.
Codex Sassoon provides a bridge between ancient Dead Sea scrolls to the Bible of the modern day.
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