Metropolitan Museum of Art, Israel Museum Purchase 15th Century Mishneh Torah
by Zach Pontz
A 15th-century illustrated volume of Mishneh Torah from the collection of Michael and Judy Steinhardt, which was planned to be sold at Sotheby’s Monday, was jointly purchased by the Israel Museum in Jerusalem and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Sotheby’s said.
“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,” Michael Steinhardt said in an emailed statement. “It is particularly meaningful that this event marks the first significant collaboration between the two museums.”
Estimated at $4.5 million to $6 million, the sale price was undisclosed. However, Sotheby’s said it exceeded the current record for Judaica at auction which was set in 1989 when a Hebrew Bible sold for $2.9 million.
The text was authored by Moses Maimonides, the standard-bearing Jewish writer and philosopher of the Middle Ages, and is arguably the most important medieval Hebrew work of any kind.
“The Mishneh Torah is a rare treasure that unites Jewish literary heritage with some of the finest illuminations from the Italian Renaissance,” said James S. Snyder, Anne and Jerome Fisher Director of the Israel Museum.