Mahzor sold for world record £6m


A beautifully illuminated 700-year-old mahzor has been sold for £6million – a world record for a Jewish manuscript.
The Luzzatto Mahzor – named after a previous owner – has been dubbed a “Jewish Mona Lisa” by an art historian because of its beauty and significance. The medieval manuscript dates back to the late 13th or early 14th century in southern Germany.
The $8.3million it fetched at Sotheby’s in New York was far in excess of the estimate before the auction on Tuesday of up to $6million (£4million). The price rose steeply in a dramatic four-way battle fought between three bidders on the phone and one in the room.
The new owner is an unnamed US collector. There had been calls for Israel to buy it. Writing in Haaretz before the auction, Israeli art historian Sefy Hendler urged the government to “pick up the gauntlet in the very short time remaining and bring the Mona Lisa of French Jewry to Israel”.
The prayer book for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur was created by a Jewish scribe-artist named Abraham in Bavaria. It later wended its way from Alsace to the Lake Constance region, Northern Italy, and France, according to notes that were written in the margins of its pages.
The mahzor eventually found its way into the collection of 19th century Italian Jewish scholar Samuel David Luzzatto. In 1870 it was bought by the Paris-based international Jewish organisation Alliance Israelite Universelle (AIU).
The proceeds from its sale will go to support AIU’s educational mission and to pay off debts.

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