Destroying a treasure

Der vielleicht spektakulärste Fall aus der neueren Geschichte, dass ein als Mäzen hochgerühmter Sammler (Houghton) als Vandale tätig wird und das Erbe der Menschheit in schändlichster Weise schädigt, indem er eines der kostbarsten persischen Manuskripte zerlegte, wurde jüngst von Basbanes in seinem lesenswerten Buch A splendor of letters (gibts inzwischen als Paberback) aufgegriffen. Eine Hauptquelle Basbanes, der Artikel in der IHT von 1996, liegt online vor. How much would the leaves of the Irish Book of Kells sell for if ripped out one by one? Or those of the monumental German Gospel illuminated for Henry the Lion in the 12th century? We shall never know (one hopes). No one would dare touch the Book of Kells, preserved at Trinity College in Dublin. And when the German Gospel turned up out of the blue at Sotheby’s in 1983, there was no question of tearing it apart. It was sold as is for £8.14 million, and it is back in its monastery in Helmarshausen. Such is not the story of the manuscripts from Iran, India or Turkey processed through the Western trade, but of all the stories of destruction, few are as spectacular as that of the Shah-Nameh, or Book of Kings, which was illuminated in Tabriz from the accession to the throne of Shah Tahmasp of Iran in 1524 until, possibly, the mid-1530s. (weitere Zitate dazu).