Hebrew Bible, almost fully intact and considered the oldest, fetches $38.1 million at auction.

The Sassoon Manuscript is the oldest and most complete Hebrew Bible ever discovered. Sotheby’s announced on May 17 that it is expected to fetch between $30 million and $50 million at auction. The auction for the manuscript was held on May 19 and the winning bid was $38.1 million, making it one of the most expensive books or documents ever sold at auction.

The document was published in 900 and is named after its previous owner, David Solomon Sassoon. It provides important links between Jewish oral tradition and Hebrew manuscripts and is considered the foundation of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The manuscript contains nearly the entire Bible, with 24 separate books divided into three parts: The Pentateuch, The Prophets, and His Book of Moses.

Prior to the auction, Sotheby’s had estimated that the document would sell for between $30 million and $50 million, but the winning bid fell short of that range. The amount paid for the Sassoon Manuscript exceeds the $30.8 million paid in 1994 for Leonardo da Vinci’s Leicester manuscript. However, it fell short of the $43.2 million paid in 2021 for the first edition of the US Constitution, which set the world record for any book or document.

Former owner and collector Jacky Safra recently carbon-dated the Sassoon manuscript, confirming that it is older than the Aleppo and Leningrad manuscripts, which are the other major early Hebrew Bibles. Sotheby’s said the manuscript was dated to the late 9th or early 10th century on both scientific and paleographical grounds.

The winning bid for the Sassoon Manuscript was funded by a donation from Alfred H. Moses. David Solomon Sassoon obtained the Bible in 1929 and amassed one of the most important private collections of 20th-century Jewish and Hebrew manuscripts.

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