Shalom Life | July 01, 2014

Torah Sells for $3.87 Million, Breaks Records

Printed in 15th century Bologna, three bidders tried to outdo each other in a bid to own the rare Biblical text

By: Daniel Koren

Published: May 1st, 2014 in Business » World

Torah Sells for $3.87 Million, Breaks Records

A centuries-old printed book of the Torah has been sold at a Paris auction for $3.87 million, breaking records as the most expensive Torah book ever purchased.

The book was printed in 15th century Bologna in Hebrew. According to Christie’s Auction House, it was published in January, 1482.

“The volume represents the very first appearance in print of all five books of the Pentateuch as well as the first to which vocalization and cantillation marks have been added,” states the Christie’s website.

Three prospective buyers tried to outbid each other throughout the sale, which took place in Paris on April 30th. In the end, however, only one of them had the financial capabilities to get the job done.

The winner of the auction has asked to remain anonymous, and broke two records during the purchase. As stated by Christie’s, the Torah book is the world’s most expensive Hebrew-language book. Secondly, it fetched a higher price than any other printed book ever sold in France.

That’s quite the feat, considering the country’s impressive cadre of literary minds.

Up until the auction, Christie’s had set the Torah book’s worth at approximately $2.08 million (1.5 million euros), almost half of what it ended up selling for.

Christie’s notes that on the back of the book, signatures of three 16th and 17th century censors are presence, confirming that the book sat in an Italian library until at least the mid 17th century.

“Over the last hundred years only two copies of this rare edition have come to auction: the first in 1970, printed on vellum and complete, the second in 1998, printed on paper and missing eight pages,” stated the renowned auction house.

The copy, sold Wednesday, is in “exceptionally fresh condition.”

The previously most expensive Jewish prayer book was a Florence-made mahzor sold in Paris, 2012 for $2.41 million.

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