Monday, November 13, 2017

Valmadonna Library auction mystery

VALMADONNA LIBRARY UPDATE: Valmadonna Trust Library auction in NY brings record sales. But who benefits? Private sale of Jewish books sees lots reaching far beyond their estimated values, including the trust's complete reference and bibliographic library for $190,000 (Times of Israel).
It is a mystery who benefitted from the proceeds earned at the November 9 private sale of 209 rare items from the esteemed Valmadonna Trust Library. But as the hammer struck on the final lot — sold for almost four times its estimate at $190,000 in an auction held at New York-based Kestenbaum & Company — the anonymous benefactor was doubtless pleased with the results.

Amassed over four decades by the late Jack V. Lunzer, the Valmadonna Library consists of more than 11,000 printed books and broadsheets, as well as some 300 manuscripts. Lunzer, a British industrial diamond merchant and bibliophile, charted the history of Hebrew printing through his collection, which reflects the worldwide dissemination of Jewish culture through the printed word.

After Lunzer’s death in December 2016, the Valmadonna was jointly acquired by the National Library of Israel in Jerusalem and Dr. David and Jemima Jeselsohn, collectors of archaeology, books and Judaica, in a private transaction with the Valmadonna Trust.

As explored in an in-depth Times of Israel article earlier this week, both NLI and the Jeselsohns deny being behind the November 9 auction, with each intimating that it is the other.

This story just keeps getting more complicated. Past PaloeJudaica posts on the fate of the Valmadonna Library are collected here.

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