Dead Sea Scrolls fragments put on sale for first time by Hampstead dealer

The 2000-year-old relics originally from the West Bank are being marketed for $1million dollars in London as part of a unique exhibition

Hampstead dealer Bernard Shapero is putting the 2,000-year-old relics up for sale at his private exhibition of Jewish books, manuscripts, art and jewellery.

The four Dead Sea Scroll fragments in Mr Shapero’s possession are extremely rare, with the vast bulk of the fragments now belonging to the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

The scrolls, first discovered by Bedouins in the West Bank in 1947, are key to our understanding of Jewish life in Israel in Roman and Greek times.

Curator Bela Goldenberg Taieb told the Ham&High that the fragments in question were discovered in Cave four by a Bedouin. They were acquired by Khalil Iskander Shahin of Bethlehem.

He moved his collection to Beirut in the early 1960s and then Zurich in the late 1960s.

The fragments on sale belong to a private American collector and have not been studied or marketed until this year.

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The fragments are very darkened, but Hebrew lettering has been found on them.

Mr Shapero, who lives in Hampstead Village, has been a rare books dealer for 36 years.

He said: “The whole exhibition shows the positive side of Judaism.

“There’s no Holocaust material or anti-Semitic material, which forms a large part of collecting in this field.

“We’re really celebrating the positive side because we feel that there’s enough in this world of negativity. We just want to show the good side of it.”

Shapero Rare Books is collaborating with American art history expert Sandra Hindman for the sale showcasing Jewish life in the past 2,000 years.

Prize pieces include Jewish wedding rings, Lucian Freud’s first illustrative drawings and limited edition artist books by Mark Chagall.

A firm Remainer, Mr Shapero says that Brexit has not yet hurt his international business.

He said: “London is currently the greatest city in the world – the most international, most cosmopolitan. It’s our golden period as Londoners.

“London is filled with the world – American, European, Indian, Chinese, Russian.”

The selling exhibition will be held at Shapero Rare Books, 32 St George Street, W1S. It runs from November 2 to 19