Philanthropist Steinhardt to auction huge Jewish history and art collection

Click photo to download. Caption: Michael Steinhardt. Credit: NYU.( Sotheby’s auction house in New York City plans to sell an enormous art and culture collection assembled by Jewish philanthropist and former Wall Street money manager Michael Steinhardt. Five hundred pieces, including textiles, manuscripts and paintings, will be put on sale in April and are estimated to bring in about $11 million. 

“This is an incredibly exciting event in the field of Jewish art. I’ve been immersed in the world of Jewish material and culture for the last two decades and a collection of this scope and scale and quality has not come on the market in half a century,” Elke Deitsch, curator of the Judaica collection and museum at Temple Emanu-El in Manhattan, told the Times of Israel.

Some of the materials are 1,000 years old, with items representing regions all over the world. One of the pieces is a 15th-century Torah book, the Frankfurt Mishneh Torah, which includes text by Middle Age Jewish philosopher Moses Maimonides. It is the second of a two-volume manuscript, the first of which is housed in the Vatican. It is estimated to be worth between $4.5 million and $6 million. Other items in the collection are a 12th-century North German bronze lion-shaped hand-washing jug with Hebrew inscriptions that is now valued at $200,000 to $400,000.

“Now, at 72, it is time for the collection to be passed on to a new generation, in the hopes that it will encourage them in turn to discover a rich Jewish heritage and the joy of owning a piece of the past,” said Steinhardt in a press release from the auction house.

Steinhardt is the co-founder of Taglit-Birthright Israel.

Posted on January 11, 2013 .