S otheby’s is proud to offer for sale more Important Judaica from the collection of the late Abraham Halpern. Mr. Halpern’s collection was legendary in the field for its unparalleled breadth and depth, and his enthusiasm for the subject is well remembered by generations of scholars and collectors.
Mr. Halpern began collecting in the 1970s and continued for almost 50 years. He acquired magnificent silver objects, textiles, books, and manuscripts from the most famous Judaica collections to come to auction in the 20th century, such as those of Davidowitz, Zagayski, Jacob Michael, and Sassoon. He also purchased privately and was active in the numerous Judaica auctions held at Sotheby Parke-Bernet during this period. Mr. Halpern was close with Jay Weinstein, Sotheby’s longtime Judaica specialist, and many of his purchases were featured in that specialist’s seminal 1985 publication, A Collector’s Guide to Judaica.
Mr. Halpern was also an enthusiastic lender to important Judaica exhibitions, including the famed Sephardic Journey, 1492-1992 and Ashkenaz: The German Jewish Heritage exhibitions held at the Yeshiva University Museum, among many others. He remained fascinated with Judaica until the end of his life, and as his collecting entered its fifth decade, he loved to share his treasures with his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, showing them how a motif continued in use across a long period of time or how an anomaly here or an unexpected detail there revealed the innovation and creativity inherent in these objects.
The first offering of Halpern last year showed the continued strength of privately sourced, fresh to the market items. Museum bidding was key to this success, and we saw institutions buying the highest quality historic European pieces, but also expanding to rarer materials such as textiles- a particular strength of the Halpern holdings - and other cultures, such as North African and Middle Eastern Judaica, which are showcased in the incredible breadth of this collection.
Part III of The Halpern Sale will be a live auction, on Thursday, December 14, offering a curated selection reflecting the incredible breadth of the collection.
The Halpern Collection represents the most important collection of Judaica to come onto the market in a decade and the finest group of Judaica textiles ever to appear at auction. No other Judaica sale has boasted the breadth and comprehensiveness, temporally, geographically, and stylistically, that can be found here. Sotheby’s invites the public to enjoy and learn from this encyclopedic survey of Jewish art, tradition, and culture and to participate in this historic sale of one of the world’s great private Judaica collections.
7–13 December 2023