Sotheby’s to Auction off 1,100-Year-Old Codex Sassoon for up to $50 Million
Sotheby’s has announced that they will auction off the oldest surviving, nearly complete Hebrew Bible, known as the Codex Sassoon. This 1,100-year old volume carries an estimate of $30 million to $50 million, which could make it the most valuable historical document ever sold at auction. The Codex Sassoon is being offered by Sotheby’s with an estimate of $30m-$50m (£25m-£42m) and is named after businessman, philanthropist and Judaica collector David Solomon Sassoon, who once owned the item.
The Codex is a critical link between the Dead Sea scrolls and the Bible of today. It predates the earliest entirely complete Hebrew Bible, the Leningrad Codex, by nearly a century, and although the Aleppo Codex at the Israel Museum is older than the Codex Sassoon, almost two-fifths of its pages are missing.
The Codex Sassoon will go on show at Sotheby’s in London from February 22-28, followed by an exhibition tour to Israel and the US. The item is projected to be sold at an auction in New York in May for an estimated cost of between $30 million and $50 million. The only two codices dating to the 10th century which comprise almost all of the Hebrew Bible are the Aleppo Codex, located at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem since 1958, and this one.
Richard Austin, Sotheby’s global head of books and manuscripts, commented in the release that the Codex “has long held a revered and fabled place in the pantheon of surviving historic manuscripts and is undeniably one of the most important and singular texts in human history.” Sharon Mintz, Sotheby’s senior Judaica specialist, further added that the Codex “radiates such power” and “marks a critical turning point in how we perceive the history of the divine word across thousands of years, and is a transformative witness to how the Hebrew Bible has influenced the pillars of civilization – art, culture, law, politics – for centuries.
0. “Sotheby's is auctioning the ‘earliest, most complete Hebrew Bible ever'” JNS.org, 15 Feb. 2023, https://www.jns.org/sothebys-is-auctioning-the-earliest-most-complete-hebrew-bible-ever
1. “Oldest complete Hebrew Bible expected to break auction records” The Guardian, 15 Feb. 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/books/2023/feb/15/oldest-complete-hebrew-bible-expected-to-break-auction-records
2. “Oldest Nearly Complete Hebrew Bible Estimated to Sell at Sotheby’s Auction for $30M-$50M” ARTnews, 15 Feb. 2023, https://www.artnews.com/art-news/news/oldest-nearly-complete-hebrew-bible-sothebys-auction-codex-sassoon-1234657681/
3. “Oldest known copy of Hebrew Bible could fetch $50 million at auction” St. Louis Jewish Light, 15 Feb. 2023, https://stljewishlight.org/arts-entertainment/books/oldest-known-copy-of-hebrew-bible-could-fetch-50-million
4. “World's oldest Hebrew Bible could fetch $50 million at auction” NBC Palm Springs, 15 Feb. 2023, https://nbcpalmsprings.com/2023/02/15/worlds-oldest-hebrew-bible-could-fetch-50-million-at-auction/
5. “A ‘Crucial Bridge’ to History, the Codex Sassoon Could Fetch $50 Million” Barron's, 15 Feb. 2023, https://www.barrons.com/articles/a-crucial-bridge-to-history-the-codex-sassoon-could-fetch-50-million-9bb3eea9