Life & Culture

The oldest Hebrew Bible to be auctioned for $30-50 million

According to Sotheby’s of New York, the Sassoon Codex is the oldest and most complete Hebrew Bible ever discovered and will be offered at auction with an estimate of US$30-50 million. This makes it the most valuable printed text or historical document ever offered.

The oldest and most complete Hebrew Bible, more than a thousand years old, will be auctioned in May 2023 for an astronomical price of up to $50 million, Sotheby’s announced on Wednesday.

“A founding text
The Sassoon codex, named after its most famous owner, David Solomon Sassoon (who died in 1942), dates from 900 AD and is “the most complete Hebrew Bible (…) estimated at between 30 and 50 million dollars, among the most expensive manuscripts ever sold,” Richard Austin, head of ancient books and manuscripts at Sotheby’s told AFP.

The sale will take place in May 2023, during the classic spring auction season for contemporary, modern and impressionist art held by the industry’s behemoths in New York: Sotheby’s, owned by French-Israeli tycoon Patrick Drahi, and rival Christie’s, controlled by French billionaire François Pinault’s holding company Artemis.

Asked about potential buyers for the codex, Richard Austin said the list of buyers was “a bottomless pit”: it is “a founding text of civilisation, and it would be difficult to find a text that has had more influence than the Bible in the history of humanity”.

This Bible in Hebrew – the original language of the Old Testament which also contains passages in Greek and Aramaic – “belonged to important collectors in the 20th century; it is obviously possible that it will go to an institution to be studied there, including abroad” and “whatever the beliefs”, added the expert, referring to Judaism, Christianity, Islam or atheism.

In perfect condition
This Sassoon codex, in a visibly exceptional state of preservation and with only a few pages missing, links 24 books of the Hebrew Bible taken from the famous Dead Sea Scrolls dating from the 3rd century BC.

The bible, which is more complete than the Aleppo codex, has been authenticated by carbon 14, “confirmed by palaeographic and codicological research (…) and has survived for more than a millennium in the hands of public and private collectors,” Sharon Liberman Mintz, a specialist in Jewish texts at Sotheby’s, told AFP.

The art auction company boasts in a press release that it is the specialist in the market for old manuscripts and books. In November 2021, it sold an original copy of the Constitution of the United States of America for the record price of 43 million dollars. The document was acquired by the American billionaire Kenneth Griffin, owner of the investment company Citadel, who was to lend it to a museum in Arkansas.

Financial analysis

Euribor rises (all maturities) to new 14 year highs

The three, six and 12 month Euribor rates rose today to new 14 year highs, at 2.682%, 3.166% and 3.542% respectively.

The 12-month Euribor rate, which is currently the most used in Portugal in variable rate mortgages, rose today to 3.542%, up 0.024 points, a new high since December 2008.

According to the Bank of Portugal, the 12-month Euribor already represents 43% of the ‘stock’ of loans for permanent owner-occupier mortgages with a variable rate, while the six-month Euribor represents 32%.

After shooting up on 12 April to 0.005%, for the first time positive since 05 February 2016, the 12-month Euribor has been in positive territory since 21 April.

The average 12-month Euribor advanced from 3.018% in December to 3.338% in January, up 0.320 points.

The six month Euribor rate, which entered positive territory on 6 June, also advanced today, to 3.166%, up 0.031 points, a new maximum since December 2008.

The six-month Euribor was negative for six years and seven months (between 06 November 2015 and 03 June 2022).

The average six-month Euribor rose from 2.560% in December to 2.864% in January, up 0.304 points.

In the same vein, the three-month Euribor, which entered positive territory on 14 July for the first time since April 2015, advanced today, when it was fixed at 2.682%, up 0.022 points, a new maximum since January 2009.

The three-month Euribor rate was negative between April 21, 2015 and last July 13 (seven years and two months).

The average three-month Euribor rose from 2.063% in December to 2.354% in January, an increase of 0.291 points.

Euribor has started to rise more significantly since February 04, 2022, after the European Central Bank (ECB) admitted that it might raise key interest rates this year due to rising inflation in the Eurozone and the trend was reinforced with the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022.

At its last monetary policy meeting, on February 2, the ECB raised its key interest rates again by 50 basis points, the same as on December 15, when it began to slow the pace of increases compared to the two previous ones, which were 75 basis points, on October 27 and September 8, respectively.

On 21 July, the ECB raised the three key interest rates by 50 basis points for the first time in 11 years.

The three, six and 12-month Euribor rates were all-time lows, respectively of -0.605% on 14 December 2021, -0.554% and -0.518% on 20 December 2021.

The Euribor is fixed by the average of the rates at which a group of 57 banks in the euro zone are willing to lend money to each other on the interbank market.


Education: a rally organized in Paris against a project to close nearly 250 classes

The Paris education authority could close 187 primary and 60 secondary classes in September. Parents and teachers fear the consequences on students’ learning, and a rally against the project is organized on Tuesday, February 14, in front of the rectorat.
In front of a middle school in the 5th district of Paris, there is anger. At the start of the new school year, a sixth grade class will be eliminated. Parents and teachers fear the consequences on learning. In all, the Paris academy could close 187 classes in primary and 60 in secondary school in September. The rectorate justifies these closures by a drop in school demographics over the past two years: – 4,669 students in the secondary level, including 1,200 in the sixth grade.

A rally organized on Tuesday, February 14
Parents denounce an accounting logic that does not benefit their children. “What we are asking is to take advantage of this demographic decline to offer better supervision and better monitoring of students,” explains Ghislaine Morvan-Dubois, president of the FCPE Paris. A rally against the project has been organized on Tuesday, February 14 in front of the rectorat.