Results: On 22 December Sotheby’s set a new world auction record for any piece of Judaica in New York, when one of the finest copies of Daniel Bomberg’s Babylonian Talmud sold for $9.3 million (estimate $5/7 million). The Bomberg Talmud led the sale of a selection of extraordinary items from The Valmadonna Trust, which totaled $14.9 million and became the most valuable auction of Judaica ever held. Together with the auctions of Important Judaica and Israeli & International Art, Sotheby’s annual December sales of Judaica and Israeli Art totaled $22.6 million.
Details: The Valmadonna Trust Library is quite simply the finest private collection of Hebrew books and manuscripts in the world. Assembled over a span of more than six decades by visionary collector Jack Lunzer, it comprises a wide-ranging group of more than 11,000 works which chart the spread of the Hebrew press and the global dissemination of Jewish culture. Among the collection’s vast holdings are the only surviving dated manuscript written in England before the expulsion of the Jews in 1290 and the most extensive privately held collection of Hebrew incunabula. The star of the collection is a magnificent complete sixteenth-century copy of the Babylonian Talmud produced by famed printer Daniel Bomberg.
The Valmadonna Trust Library, now on offer for public auction beginning on December 22, was exhibited in its entirety at Sotheby’s New York in 2009. Thousands of visitors filled the galleries, eager to see one of the greatest collections in the world. The sale of The Valmadonna Library is a remarkable opportunity to acquire treasures from one of the world’s most important private libraries of Hebrew books and manuscripts.
Valmadonna: Reminiscences of the Custodian: Here
by Jack Lunzer
The Hebrew Bible Manuscripts of The Valmadonna Trusts Library: Here
by David Stern