One of the world’s greatest private collectors of ancient manuscripts, Martin Schøyen, is due to sell works at Sotheby’s London on 10 July. The 60 lots (including the 12th-century Vitae Sanctorum, above), mostly single leaves and fragments, are estimated to fetch between £2m and £2.9m. In terms of quality, the Schøyen collection is on a par with the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin and the Fondation Martin Bodmer in Geneva. The manuscripts being sold represent a snapshot of the collection, with the catalogue providing a textbook on Western writing from the first century BC to AD1300. Never before have so many scripts appeared in a single sale. The Oslo-based vendor says he is selling because of Norway’s tax system. “People are taxed yearly according to the value of their assets, regardless of income, which puts private collectors at a disadvantage. This means that collectors are forced to sell parts of their collections,” he says. The proceeds will provide funds to run the 13,500-item collection in Oslo and London.
Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Oslo collector sells scripts'