Sotheby’s 4 December Important Judaica auction well-exceeded its high estimate of $5.6 million, achieving $6,327,256. The sale saw 82.9% of all sold lots command prices at or above their pre-sale estimates. Leading today’s auction was an illustrated prayer book from 1716 by the renowned scribe-artist Aryeh Judah Leib Sofer ben Elhanan Katz (above left), which sold for $875,000 (est. $550/750,000). Other highlights included a fifteenth-century Hebrew Bible by Benayah ben Saadya ben Zechariah (above right), who has long been acknowledged as the greatest scribe of Yemenite Jewry. The manuscript nearly tripled its high estimate of $300,000, selling for $845,000.
This year’s sale of Important Judaica features an outstanding array of Hebrew books and manuscripts, including significant property from a distinguished collection. Among the highlights is a masterpiece of the eighteenth-century renaissance of Hebrew manuscript illumination, Prayerbook with Psalms, by Judah Aryeh Leib Sofer of Treibitsch ($550,000–750,000). In addition, this sale will include a selection of ritual silver and metalwork, notably an unusual set of seven silver goblets, by Menahem Berman, representing Shabbat and the major Jewish Festivals ($40,000–60,000); and an exquisite nineteenth-century American papercut Mizrah ($30,000–50,000).