Important Judaica and Israeli & International art bring $7.9 million at Sotheby's New York auction

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Important Judaica and Israeli & International art bring $7.9 million at Sotheby's New York auction
Siddur Tefilla me-ha-Arizal mi-Kol ha-Shanah (Order of Prayer for the Entire Year According to Rabbi Isaac Luria), Yampol (Ukraine), Scribe: Moses ben Joseph of Luboml, 1750 Est. $450/650,000, Sold for $572,500. Photo: Sotheby's.

NEW YORK, N.Y.- Sotheby’s annual December auctions of Important Judaica and Israeli & International Art brought a combined total of $7,899,939 in New York, led by three exceptionally rare interiors of synagogues by Marc Chagall that together achieved $2,365,500 – well above their cumulative high estimate of $1.6 million*. In all, only six finished oils of synagogues by Chagall are known to exist, and the present three came to market for the first time in 66 years from a descendent of Max Cottin, the original owner who acquired them from the 1945 exhibition at the Gallery of Jewish Art in New York. The lead lot of the group was Interior of the Yemenite HaGoral Synagogue, Jerusalem, which sold for $872,500 above a high estimate of $600,000.

In addition to the Chagall interiors, the afternoon sale of Israeli & International Art was led by top prices for paintings by Reuven Rubin and Mordechai Ardon. Six sold works by Rubin were led by Horses, which brought $302,500 above a high estimate of $220,000, and The Drummer of Meron that sold for $278,500 (est. $200/300,000). Ardon’s Notes and Letters from 1980 achieved $386,500, in excess of its $300,000 high estimate.

The morning sale of Important Judaica was highlighted by top prices for manuscripts, silver and paintings. The top lot of the auction was Siddur Tefilah me-ha-Arizal – the most important manuscript Hasidic prayer book still in private hands – that sold for $572,500 (est. $450/650,000). Written in a particularly handsome script, the manuscript is an exceptionally rare example of a kabblistic siddur (prayerbook) that is presumed to have been a personal prayer book of the founder of Hasidism, Rabbi Israel ben Eliezer, the Ba’al Shem Tov.

Paintings in this morning’s sale were led by Moritz Daniel Oppenheim’s The Betrothal from 1862, which sold for $302,500. The work depicts the time-honored tradition of a suitor appealing to the father of his intended bride with civility and respect. The selection of silver on offer was highlighted by A German Parcel-Gilt Silver Hanukah Lamp, George Kahlert the Younger, Breslau, 1758-60 that brought $194,500 – nearly four times its high estimate of $50,000 (pictured left) – as well as A German Parcel-Gilt Silver Torah Shield, Frantz Wagner, Hamburg from the Nottingham Hebrew Congregation that sold for $122,500 (est. $100/150,000).

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