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Lifestyle

January 12, 2013

Major Judaica collection to be auctioned in NYC

NEW YORK (AP) — Philanthropist and former Wall Street money manager Michael Steinhardt began collecting objects of Jewish history and culture three decades ago, eventually amassing a trove of manuscripts, textiles and art worth millions of dollars.

Now, the 72-year-old wants to sell his more than 500-piece collection so others can enjoy it.

Sotheby’s will auction the collection in New York on April 29 after exhibiting it in Moscow and Jerusalem and offering special presentations in Hong Kong, Singapore, Brazil and several European and U.S. cities.

The collection is estimated to bring approximately $11 million at auction.

“This is an incredibly exciting event in the field of Jewish art. I’ve been immersed in the world of Jewish material culture for the last two decades and a collection of this scope and scale and quality has not come on the market in half a century,” said Elka Deitsch, senior curator of the Judaica collection and museum at Temple Emanu-El in Manhattan.

The Judaica material spans thousands of years, from antiquity to modern times, and contains objects from every corner of the globe.

Among the highlights is a Torah from the 15th century with an estimated value of $4.5 million to $6 million.

The manuscript known as the Frankfurt Mishneh Torah has text by the Middle Age Jewish philosopher Moses Maimonides. It is the second of a two-volume manuscript featuring six large illustrations plus 32 smaller images and marginal decorations. The first volume is housed in the Vatican.

Steinhardt was out of the country and unavailable for an interview. But he said in a statement issued by Sotheby’s that he had found it gratifying to share parts of his collection over the years through museum exhibitions.

“Now, at 72, it is time for the collection to be passed onto a new generation, in the hopes that it will encourage them in turn to discover a rich Jewish heritage and the joy of owning a piece of the past,” he said.

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