Tuesday, October 15, 2019

A historic event in the annals of Jewish rare books will take place in New York City on November 9. Kestenbaum & Company, known widely as auctioneers of rare books, manuscripts and fine arts, will be auctioning off 200 rare volumes from the renowned Valmadonna Trust Library. This event will allow collectors and institutional libraries from across the globe a unique opportunity to acquire extraordinary bibliographic treasures from this celebrated collection.

Aside from their great rarity, each and every one of these volumes has been beautifully rebound by artisans from England’s top binderies and is in sterling condition. Included in this wealth of 15-18th century volumes—including 16 incunabula—the entire reference library of the Valmadonna Trust will be offered for sale as a single lot at the auction.

Kestenbaum & Company is a New York City-based boutique auction house known for its expertise in the fields of Hebraica and Judaica. For the past 25 years, top collectors, specialized dealers, museum curators and acquisition directors around the world have relied on Kestenbaum’s expertise and valued its discretion and integrity. To date, Kestenbaum & Company is credited with having sold over 28,000 lots at auction of rare and antique Judaica.

The Valmadonna Trust Library consists of 13,000 printed books and manuscripts written in Hebrew and Hebrew script. It is named after Valmadonna, a small town near Alessandria in northwest Italy with longstanding connections to the Lunzer family. The collection encompasses works from throughout the world, particularly Italy, “the cradle of Hebrew printing,” and spans over a millennium. Many items in the collection are rare or unique and many date back to the earliest Hebrew printings.

In early 2009, the collection, estimated to be worth in excess of $40 million, was placed up for sale by Sotheby’s with the proviso that it be sold as a whole and not broken up, and remain accessible to scholars. At that time, thousands flocked to the headquarters of Sotheby’s to see the collection. By May of 2011, the collection had still not been sold. In December of 2015, Sotheby’s presided over the sale of the Daniel Bromberg Babylonian Talmud (1519-1523) from the collection for $9.3 million. This past January, the collection was sold to the National Library of Israel through a private sale arranged by Sotheby’s. The arrangement is that the Valmadonna Trust Library will be housed in the National Library of Israel’s landmark new building in Jerusalem, which is due to open to the public in 2020.

The 200 rare volumes in the Valmadonna Trust Library to be auctioned off will be on view at the Kestenbaum Auction House at a cocktail reception and exclusive private viewing on Thursday, November 2, at 6 p.m.. The special guest speaker of the evening will be Rabbi Sholom Lipskar of Bal Harbour, Florida.

The evening is co-sponsored by The Nigri International Online School of Chabad. Founded in 2006, the school’s mission is to provide shluchim throughout the world with a viable means of educating their children, regardless of the remoteness of their locale. A cadre of over 125 gifted educators provides online Judaic instruction to over 1000 students from early childhood through eighth grade. Recently, the online instruction has been expanded to include Jewish children who live in remote areas of the world where Jewish schools do not exist. The services of the Nigri Online are being made available to them as well.

Reservations are required for the cocktail reception.

Following the inaugural cocktail reception, the volumes will be on exhibition at the Kestenbaum Auction House from November 5 through November 8, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day. The auction will be held on November 9 at 3 p.m. The Auction House is located on 242 West 30th Street, 12th Floor, New York, NY 10001.

To order a catalogue, make bidding arrangements, or for other related queries, please contact Alison Shearer at 212-366-1197 or [email protected].

By Pearl Markovitz