The New York Metropolitan Museum of Art and Jerusalem's Israel Museum have joined forces to purchase a rare handwritten manuscript of the Mishneh Torah by Maimonides.
The purchase was made ahead of Sotheby's auction of the Judaica collection of hedge-fund manager Michael Steinhardt, which was held on April 29 in New York.
While the actual sum that the museums paid has not been disclosed, Sotheby's did state that it far exceeded the $4.5m-6m estimate, as well as the previous world record for an item of Judaica at auction, which was held by a Hebrew Bible that sold for $2.9m in 1989.
The manuscript contains the eight final books of the Jewish legal code, penned by important rabbinical figure Moses Maimonides circa 1457.
Wonderfully illustrated, it boasts six large painted panels with 41 smaller illuminations that are considered some of the finest ever created in the Italian Renaissance - a period noted for its superlative artistry.
Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Thomas P Cambell, commented: "We are pleased and proud to collaborate with the Israel Museum on acquiring such a rare and important manuscript for both of our institutions.
"The Mishneh Torah is a justly celebrated work that attests to the refined aesthetic sensibility of members of Italy's Jewish community as well as to the opulence of North Italian book decoration in the 15th century."
The Metropolitan Museum of Art also secured that auction's top lot, a parcel-gilt silver Torah crown, for $857,000, making a 71.3% increase on its $500,000 estimate.
The crown would have been used to adorn the Torah - displaying the respect due to it - and was commissioned by prominent Jewish merchant Gabriel Trieste (1784-1860). It is exceptional for its size as well as lavish decoration.
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