Oldest near-complete Hebrew Bible sold

A Hebrew Bible more than 1,000 years old sold for $38.1 million in New York on May17, setting a record for the most valuable manuscript ever sold at auction.

The Codex Sassoon, which dates to the late ninth to early 10th century, is the earliest near-complete Hebrew Bible known to still exist. It was sold by Sotheby's following a four-minute bidding battle between two bidders, the auction house said in a statement.

The Bible was bought by former U.S. diplomat Alfred Moses on behalf of an American nonprofit that will gift it to the ANU Museum of the Jewish People in Tel Aviv, Israel, Sotheby's said.

"The Hebrew Bible is the most influential book in history and constitutes the bedrock of Western civilization. I rejoice in knowing that it belongs to the Jewish People," said Moses, an ambassador under president Bill Clinton.

The sale surpassed the $30.8 million that Microsoft founder Bill Gates paid for Leonardo da Vinci's Codex Leicester manuscript in 1994 as the most expensive handwritten document ever sold at auction.

The most expensive historical document remains one of the first prints of the U.S. Constitution, which Sotheby's sold for $43 million in November 2021.

The Codex Sassoon is one of only two codices, or manuscripts, containing all 24 books of the Hebrew Bible to have survived into the modern era.

It is substantially more complete than the Aleppo Codex and older than the Leningrad Codex, two other famous early Hebrew Bibles, Sotheby's said.

The manuscript bridges the Dead Sea Scrolls, which date back as early as the third century B.C., and today's modernly accepted form of the Hebrew Bible.

It is named for previous owner David Solomon Sassoon (1880-1942) who assembled the most significant...

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