World’s most famous book fetches £30 MILLION at Sotheby’s

Bestseller demands high price

Codex Sassoon. Credit: Sotheby's.com

In an astonishing result, an ancient book achieved a truly biblical price as it went under the hammer yesterday.

On Wednesday, May 17 at Sotheby’s in New York, the world’s oldest nearly complete Hebrew Bible fetched a staggering £30,000,000 ($38.1M), according to Metro.

The book, known as the Codex Sassoon, is approximately 1,100 years old and was successfully bid for by the aptly named Alfred H. Moses, who will be handing it over to the ANU Museum of Jewish People in Tel Aviv, Israel.

Despite its hefty price tag, it didn’t quite reach the dizzy heights of its estimate, in February, Sotheby’s’ valued the book at $50 million.

However, one book is still the clear leader when it comes down to pure monetary value and that is a first edition of the US Constitution which sold for $43.2 million (£34 million) in 2021.

A spokesperson on behalf of Sotheby’s, Sharon Liberman Mintz said the huge price commanded by the Codex illustrated the power and significance of the Hebrew Bible, on which much of human society is built.

She went on to say she was ‘absolutely delighted by today’s monumental result and that Codex Sassoon will shortly be making its grand and permanent return to Israel, on display for the world to see’.

The lot was described by Sotheby’s as, ‘arguably the most influential book in history and constitutes the bedrock of Western culture.’

In 1929, David Solomon Sassoon bought the book for his collection at his home in London, hence it being dubbed the Codex Sassoon.

After Sassoon’s death, the codex was sold by Sotheby’s in Zurich to the British Rail Pension Fund for approximately £256,000, in 1978.

Its last owner prior to the auction was Jacqui Safra, a banker and art collector who paid £2.5 million for it in 1989.

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.

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