Jerusalem Islamic museum suspends sale of its exhibits following outrage

Following outrage, Jerusalem’s Museum of Islamic Art’s asks to delay the sale of part of its storied collection, days before some 200 items were set to go under the hammer through Sotheby’s London.

One-hundred-and-ninety objects of Islamic art from the museum’s storage and 60 clocks and watches from its permanent collection have been scheduled to be sold on October 27 and 28, according to Sotheby’s.

Hermann de Stern Foundation, a private foundation that owns the items, says the decision was made due to criticism of the planned sale voiced by many, including President Reuven Rivlin.

Lamenting the planned move, Rivlin said yesterday in a statement, “We must find the means available to the State of Israel in the legal and international spheres to prevent the sale of these cultural assets from the region as a whole.”

The facade of the L.A. Mayer Museum for the Islamic Arts in Jerusalem. (courtesy, Sotheby’s)

The foundation says it has now suspended the move “due to our great respect for the president of Israel, and even though the sale of the items was made in accordance with all relevant laws.”

The L.A. Mayer Museum for Islamic Art had said earlier that facing financial pressures, including and especially from the coronavirus pandemic, it has been forced to sell off the items, in order to remain open at all.

The sale of Islamic works, including objects, manuscripts, rugs and carpets, has been estimated to bring a total of between $4.13 million and $6.1 million to the museum. The watches, which will be offered on the auction’s second day, have a combined estimated worth of $2.2 million-$3.4 million.

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