Published On: Sun, May 5th, 2013

Metropolitan and Israel Museums Buy Mishneh Torah of Steinhardt collection

Mishneh Torah

Mishneh Torah

/ By Ilan Shavit/

Mishneh Torah, a 15th-century illustrated volume from the collection of Steinhardt, was jointly purchased by the Israel Museum in Jerusalem and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Sotheby’s said today.

The Mishna Torah was planned to be sold at Sotheby’s (BID) this morning,

Estimated at $4.5 million to $6 million, as the top lot sale from the Judaica collection which Michael Steinhardt the former hedge-fund manager and his wife Judi assembled over more than 30 years.

While the price was undisclosed, it exceeded the current record for Judaica at auction which was set in 1989 at Sotheby’s (BID) London when a Hebrew Bible sold for $2.9 million, the auction house said.

Mishneh Torah  was written by Moses Maimonedes in the 12th century, and it contains 14 books of the Jewish legal code.

Steinhardt’s volume includes books 7 through 14 and was part of a two-volume set created in 1457 in the Northern Italy. Other volumes are in the collections of the Vatican library.


The Met also bought an 18th century, Italian silver Torah crown for $857, 000, surpassing the high estimate of $500, 000.


The Jewish Museum in New York snapped up a 16th century German bronze hand washing vessel shaped as a lion for $377, 000, within the appraisal estimate.

“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. It is particularly meaningful”, said Michael Steinhardt in his statement, “ that this event marks the first significant collaboration between the two museums.”


The Israel Museum acquired the volume with support from the Steinhardts, Zurich collectors Susanne and Rene Braginsky, co- founder of Incentive Asset Management AG; Renee and Lester Crown, chairman of Henry Crown & Co, Chicago-based private investment group;philanthropist Lynn Schusterman of Tulsa,  Oklahoma, and one anonymous donor, the museum said in an announcement.


In 1950, a Frankfurt Jewish family acquired the manuscript, along with seven others, in exchange for property that the city wished to acquire for municipal development. It remained in the family until its 2007 purchase by Judy and Michael Steinhardt, New York.

The manuscript underwent a complete restoration at the Israel Museum, where it has been on long-term loan since 2007 and on view to the public from 2010 to 2013.


“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.

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