This Week in Alternative Investments - May 19th, 2023

The Codex Sassoon sold for $38.1 million, becoming the most expensive book ever sold at auction


Bite sized market updates

A record was set for the most expensive book ever sold at auction. The Codex Sassoon, an 1100 year-old Hebrew Bible, sold for $38.1 million at Sotheby’s.

Over $1.6 billion of artwork was sold in the last ten days at major auction houses in New York. A number of paintings broke the $40 million mark, led by a Basquiat that sold for $67.1 million.

Homebuilder sentiment is finally back in positive territory. It is the first time since last July that it has reached this mark.

StartEngine acquired SeedInvest. The transaction brings together two of the largest equity crowdfunding platforms.

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Market Updates

The Codex Sassoon, an 1100 year-old Hebrew bible, sold for $38.1 million. This set a new record for the most expensive book to ever sell at auction, breaking a record set in 1994 when Bill Gates bought the Codex Leicester for $30.8 million. The manuscript is the earliest known example that contains all 24 books of the Hebrew Bible, and will be donated to the ANU Museum of the Jewish People in Tel Aviv, Israel.

The spring art auction season in New York has seen over $1.6 billion in sales. Major auctions at Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Phillips saw a number of big sales - including Jean-Michel Basquiat’s “El Gran Espectaculo (The Nile)” for $67.1 million, Gustav Klimt’s “Insel im Attersee” for $53.2 million, Henri Rousseau’s “Les Flamants” for $43.5 million, Rene Magritte’s “L’empire des lumières” for $42.3 million and Pablo Picasso’s “Nature Morte à la Fenêtre” for $41.8 million.

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index reached its highest mark since last July. The index hit 50 out of 100, which counts as “positive”, the first time it has exited negative territory in ten months. Declining supply and the expectation of lower mortgage rates by year’s end has buoyed the hopes of homebuilders. Still, the number is still down from last year, when it registered as an 81 out of 100.

The equity crowdfunding platform StartEngine acquired rival SeedInvest. Combined, the two companies have helped startups raise over $1.15 billion in the past decade from 1.7 million users. StartEngine will acquire Seedinvest’s email lists, website and other IP. With venture capital fundraising becoming more difficult to access, equity crowdfunding stands to become an attractive alternative for many founders.