Oslo collector Martin Schøyen sells 60 manuscripts

He blames Norway’s tax system for his decision

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'

Appeared in The Art Newspaper Archive, 237 June 2012