Kestenbaum & Company offered two exceptional portrait paintings by Isidor Kaufmann in their auction of Fine Judaica on March 16th. Half a dozen bidders vied to own these alluring pieces. Opening the sale was “A Young Jewish Bride” (Lot 1). The subject of a Jewish woman is one that was seldom created by Kaufmann, which made this particular artwork most desirable. Acquired decades ago directly from Philipp Kaufmann, son of the artist and exhibited over the years at both The Israel Museum and at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, the painting realized $283,500. The second Isidor Kaufmann portrait offered in the auction, “Hasid at Prayer” attained $93,750 (Lot 2).
Among the Important Hebrew Printed Books in the auction, strong performers included a complete, wide-margined copy of Solomon ibn Gabirol’s Mivchar HaPeninim, Soncino, 1484, which garnered $62,500 (Lot 139), and the very first Hebrew prayer-book printed in Switzerland, Seder Tefilloth MiKol HaShanah KeMinhag Kehiloth Ashkenazim, Basle, 1579, which achieved $50,000 against a pre-sale estimate of $15,000-25,000 (Lot 168).
Another noteworthy printed book in the sale was an uncut and unopened copy of the Polyglot Psalter, the second book printed in Arabic and the only book printed in Genoa, Italy, in the first quarter of the 16th century. Estimated at $12,000-18,000, it earned $32,500 (Lot 64) after competitive bidding.
The Autograph Letters section of the auction generated strong interest. Among the highlights was an extraordinary and voluminous world-wide study on anti-Semitism, created by the Holocaust survivor and prominent Argentinean reparation lawyer, José Moskovits. Included were circa 1,000 autograph letters signed by noted religious authorities, politicians, academics, artists, corporate leaders, writers, journalists and other notables from around the globe who answered Mr. Moskovits’ survey concerning anti-Semitism, 1974-78. Estimated at $20,000-25,000, it ultimately sold for $56,250 (Lot 226).
Also finding favor with bidders was a collection of c. 63 autograph letters signed by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, R. Yosef Yitzchak Schneerson and his sons-in-law, Brooklyn, NY 1943-51, which attained $31,250 (Lot 261), and a letter signed by R. Yechezkel Shraga Halberstam of Shinova (The Shinaver Rav), 1896, which brought in $30,000 against an estimate of $10,000-15,000 (Lot 244).
Of particular interest in the Manuscripts section of the auction was Regulations of the Frankfurt Bikur Cholim Society, a Hebrew manuscript on vellum, with more than 250 autograph signatures of several generations of society members, Frankfurt, 1760. Estimated at $8,000-12,000, it fetched $17,500. (Lot 240).
Kestenbaum & Company’s next auction of Fine Judaica, including Printed Books, Manuscripts, Ceremonial Objects and Fine Art, will take place in June, 2017. For further information, to request images, or for any other queries, please contact Jackie Insel at 212-366-1197 or Jackie@kestenbaum.net