NEW YORK - Two weeks after A Treasured Legacy, The Michael and Judy Steinhardt Judaica Collection was sold on April 29th, press reports continue to come in—the latest just a few days ago from Marty Peretz in the New York Observer. The attention was spread far and wide, including international news reports from as far away as São Paulo, Brazil.
The preview exhibition of A Treasured Legacy.
The most gratifying thing for me about this momentous sale was the participation of so many museums, Jewish as well as encyclopedic. In a spectacular partnership, The Israel Museum, together with the Metropolitan Museum of Art, bought the illuminated Mishneh Torah, our cover lot, in a private sale concluded shortly before the auction. In addition, the Met bought the most expensive silver item in the sale, a monumental and exceptionally fine Italian 18th Century Torah Crown. I can’t wait to see it “hold its own” among the silver and other decorative items in the 18th century galleries. The craftsmanship is superb, attesting to highly cultivated tastes of Venetian Jews strategically poised in the flourishing trade between East and West in 18th-century Italy.
Lisbon’s Hebrew Bible, exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2011-12.
Joining the Crown at the Met will be a pair of Russian silver-gilt Torah Finials also from the Steinhardt sale. It is interesting to note that the Met has borrowed several important Hebrew manuscripts over the last few years, including the Washington Haggadah from the Library of Congress in 2011; the Rylands Haggadah from the John Rylands University Library of Manchester in 2012 and Lisbon’s Hebrew Bible from the National Library of Portugal in 2011-12. I was also thrilled that the Jewish Museum was able to acquire the exceptionally rare and beautiful medieval lion-form Acquamanile with Hebrew inscription. Other Museums, which made acquisitions, were the North Carolina Museum of Art, the Columbus Museum of Art and the Cincinnati Art Museum. These museum join a growing number of city museums, including the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, which have in the last 5-10 years begun adding Judaica to their collections. Long may this trend last!