Tuesday, February 10, 2009

SOTHEBY'S has a vast Judaica collection coming up for sale. The AP reports:
The complete library, valued at more than $40 million, is being shown in its entirety for the first time at Sotheby's Manhattan galleries until Feb. 19. The trust has asked the auction house to facilitate the sale of the complete collection to a public institution or private collector. It will not break up the collection or sell individuals works.

The Valmadonna Library is the lifelong pursuit of Jack Lunzer, an 88-year-old collector from London who was in New York on Monday for the opening of the exhibition.

Lunzer will not benefit from the proceeds of the sale, which is being handled by the trust, which will also decide whether to accept an offer from a collector or an institution.

But Lunzer has made his wishes known. "I would like our library to be acquired by the Library of Congress," he said. "That would be my great joy."


Lunzer's most prized acquisition — one he pursued for more than 25 years — is a nearly pristine complete edition of the Babylonian Talmud printed in 1519-1523 by Daniel Bomberg, a Christian printer of Hebrew books.
UPDATE (11 February): The Art Daily has more here. Notably:
Codex Valmadonna I
The jewel in the Valmadonna Library’s crown is one of the most important privately-owned books in the world - a Pentateuch (Hebrew Bible), written in England the summer of 1189. Known as the Codex Valmadonna I, this extraordinary book is the only dated Hebrew text in existence from medieval England, before King Edward I’s 1290 edict expelling the Jews. The year following this manuscript’s creation, 1190, mobs in York attacked the Jewish community living there, massacring the population, and looting their property; the books and manuscripts were exported and subsequently sold back to Jewish communities abroad. The Codex Valmadonna I is thus thought to have survived this journey, having been displaced from its home in England. ...