A 16th-century copy of the Talmud has sold at auction for $12.9 million ($US9.3m) in New York, a global record for any piece of Judaica, auctioneers Sotheby’s announced.
The extremely rare Babylonian Talmud had been expected to fetch between $7 million and $10 million.
“The extraordinary volume was purchased by Stephan Loewentheil for the 19th Century Rare Book and Photograph Shop,” Sotheby’s said.
The so-called Bomberg Talmud led a sale of items from the Valmadonna Trust, the world’s foremost collection of Hebrew books and manuscripts, which totalled $20.6 million.
The precious volume had been preserved for centuries in the library of Westminster Abbey in London.
The Talmud is a book of rabbinical teachings on Jewish laws, customs and traditions.
Daniel Bomberg was the first to print a full edition of the Babylonian Talmud (1519-1523), widely regarded as one of the most important printed books in Hebrew, and in western civilisation.
Only 14 full Bomberg Talmuds printed in the 16th century remain in existence.