Historic manuscript “The Housebook” reported sold in Germany

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

The German noble family of Waldburg-Wolfegg has sold the manuscript known as the The Housebook to an unknown buyer. There is speculation in the German press that it was purchased by Baron August von Finck who currently resides in Switzerland, and that the price paid was €20 million.

It is unclear whether the purchase is in fact legally valid because the manuscript was sold without the permission of the government of Tübingen required by the law of fideikommiss dissolution (similar to the common law institution Fee tail). German law forbids the export of such a precious manuscript, which is registered in the list of national cultural property.

The Housebook of Wolfegg is an illustrated manuscript that was created after 1480 by an unidentified artist known as the “Master of the Housebook” (or Master of the Amsterdam Cabinet) and possibly other artists. It was exhibited at the National Gallery of Art in the United States in 1998.

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