Michael Steinhardt's Judaica collection to auction for $11m in April

Hedge fund manager and philanthropist Michael Steinhardt is to offer his remarkable collection of Judaica at Sotheby's New York on April 29.

Aaron Wolff Herlingen Passover Haggadah
Sotheby's leads the way when it comes to Judaica, with this passover haggadah selling for $962,500 in December 2012

Containing over 500 important items that celebrate Jewish tradition, the collection will sell with a combined estimate of around $11m. Steinhardt has long been a supporter of Jewish causes, donating over $125m and co-founding Taglit-Birthright Israel, which funds 10-day trips to Isreal for young Jews.

He is known for his outspoken critical statements on "non-Orthodox Jewish life in the Diaspora".

A single-owner collection of this size and scope has not been seen at auction for at least 50 years. Its lead item is a 15th century Torah, which is expected to sell for $4.5m-6m. Known as the Frankfurt Mishneh Torah, it is one of just two known examples - the other is housed in the Vatican.

The manuscript contains texts by the 10th century philosopher Moses Maimonides, a revered figure and one of the most prolific Torah scholars of the Middle Ages. A spectacular display piece, the Torah is adorned with six large illustrations and 32 smaller drawings and decorations.

While the Torah will lead bids, the collection is particularly prized for its textiles and ceremonial art. One of the earliest dated items to feature in the sale is a 12th century North German bronze lion aquamanile, which is to be sold for $200,000-400,000.

An aquamanile is a figural jug that is used for washing hands before a meal. The example at auction boasts a medieval Hebrew inscription, which is particularly rare considering there are thought to be only a handful of medieval Judaica items in existence.

Sotheby's previous auction of Important Judaica in December was topped by an 18th century Passover Haggadah, which was created by Aaron Wolff Herlingen and sold for $962,500.

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