CEDARHURST, N.Y. – On Dec. 8, J. Greenstein & Co. will host its biannual Judaica auction devoted solely to rare Jewish artifacts. The staple of the auction will be the prized prayer book once owned by Marilyn Monroe. The auction will feature 197 rare and valuable objects. Items to be auctioned off include menorahs, kiddush cups, silver Torah shields, spice boxes and paintings. Bid absentee or live online through LiveAuctioneers.
Marilyn Monroe converted to Judaism in 1956 at the same time as her marriage to American playwright Arthur Miller. The couple divorced in 1961, but Monroe remained committed to her new religion. The prayer book is inscribed on the front page with two dedication inscriptions. The first, dated August 4, 1934, to Kenneth Wasserman from Mrs. A. Braunstein, and then apparently regifted to Mrs. Marilyn Cooper-Smith from Kenneth Wasserman who inscribed, “To Mrs. Marilyn Cooper-Smith – I wish you to keep this bible with (which?) you are married (?).”
The book, originally purchased at the Christie’s auction of the Estate of Marilyn Monroe in 1999, serves as once-in-a-lifetime chance for buyers to own a historic piece of Hollywood Judaica.
“It is only by the passing of one of the current owners that this siddur now became available. Considering that the first siddur sold for $21,000 and her menorah for $90,000, this one starting at $6,000 is a bargain,” said Jonathan Greenstein, founder, president and expert-in-charge at J Greenstein and Co.
Highlights for this year’s auction include a rare and important large illuminated marriage contract, Venice, Italy, c. 1736, estimated at $35,000-$55,000; a silver and brass “Secret Synagogue,” Jerusalem, c. 1990, $4,000-$6,000; The Tree of Life Shtender by David Moss and Noam Greenberg, Jerusalem, c. 1990, estimated $12,000-$15,000; a monumental sterling silver kiddush cup by Yaacov Yemini, Jerusalem, c. 1980, estimated $8,000-$12,000; and two vintage Yiddish optometrist eye charts, probably New York, c. 1920, $1,200-$1,500 each.
Additional auction items include, a rare and important silver spice tower, Poland, c. 19th century, $6,000-$8,000; silver Megillah case with an original Megillah, Ottoman Empire, c. 1880, $1,200-$1,500; a rare and important pair of silver tefillin cases, Poland, c. 1820, $3,000-$5,000; important silver Torah shield by Barker Brother, Birmingham, 1898, $5,000-$8,000; gold snuff box, Holy Land, c. 1900, $1,500-$2,000; brass Hanukkah lamp, Poland, early 20th century, $2,000-$3,000; silver spice tower, Germany, c. 1900, $1,500-$2,000; rare decorated nautilus shell, England, c. 1900, $6,000-$8,000; large and rare silver spice container, Germany, 18th century, $25,000-$35,000; large wooden Torah ark ornament, Romania, 19th century, $6,000-$9,000; monumental wooden and silver Torah ark by Shuki Freiman, Jerusalem, c. 1990, $20,000-$30,000; handmade wooden and sterling Megillah case by Dekel Aviv, Jerusalem, modern, $1,200-$2,000; early Israel silver filigree etrog box, Israel, c. 1960, estimated $800-$1,200.
The gallery, based in a 1500-square-foot location in Long Island, N.Y., hosts numerous historic pieces from around the world, many of which will be featured in the auction. Currently, the J. Greenstein & Co. Auction House is the country’s only house solely devoted to the sale of Jewish ritual objects.
The auction will be held Dec. 8 starting at noon Eastern time.
For more information contact Jonathan Greenstein, J. Greenstein & Co.: 917-797-0239.