A more than 1,000-year-old Hebrew Bible established a record for the most expensive book ever sold at auction when it went for $38.1 million in New York on Wednesday.
The oldest and most complete copy of the Hebrew Bible ever found is the Codex Sassoon, which was created in the late ninth and early tenth century.
According to a statement from Sotheby's, it was sold after a four-minute bidding war between two buyers.
According to Sotheby's, the bible was purchased by former US ambassador Alfred Moses on behalf of a US non-profit that plans to donate it to the ANU Museum of the Jewish People in Tel Aviv, Israel.
“The Hebrew Bible serves as the cornerstone of Western civilisation and is the most significant book in history. Moses, a US ambassador under President Bill Clinton, remarked, “I enjoy in knowing that it belongs to the Jewish People.
The transaction broke the record for the most expensive handwritten document ever sold at auction, which was the $30.8 million paid for Leonardo da Vinci's Codex Leicester manuscript in 1994.
The original print of the US Constitution, which Sotheby's sold for $43 million in November 2021, continues to be the most expensive historical document.
One of only two codices, or manuscripts, that have survived to the present day that contains all 24 books of the Hebrew Bible is the Codex Sassoon.
According to Sotheby's, it is far earlier and more complete than the Leningrad Codex and Aleppo Codex, two other well-known early Hebrew Bibles.
The document serves as a link between the Hebrew Bible as it is now recognized in contemporary times and the Dead Sea Scrolls, which date back to the third century BC.
It bears the name of the former owner, David Solomon Sassoon (1880–1942), who amassed the largest private collection of historic Jewish manuscripts ever.
The document, which had a pre-sale estimate of between $30 million and $50 million, was auctioned for the first time in more than 30 years.