Binyamin Ze'ev (Theodor) Herzl's personal dedicated autograph from 1900 was sold last weekend for a figure of $67,000. The autograph, in German, which was written for a Viennese resident whom Herzl apparently didn't know, says, "He who has no idea what he is willing to die for, is not worthy of living.”
The selling price was almost ten times higher than its opening price of $7,000.
The Herzl hand-written memorabilia was sold at a public auction of Herzl and Zionism-related items that took place at Kedem Auction House in Jerusalem. The buyer of this dedication preferred to remain anonymous, and Kedem said only that he doesn't live in Israel. Other Herzl-related items on sale were: an original picture of Herzl's early years as a boy, a first edition copy of Herzl's renowned book "The Jewish State," and a photo of Herzl's speech at the Sixth Zionist Congress. The total sum of the opening prices of the Herzl-related items was $26,000, but the total sum of the closing prices was $107,000 – reflecting an increae of over 300%.
Herzl's dedication, which "stole the show" in the auction, had been found in an album of autographs and personal dedications collected by the Austrian Sigmund Milch of Vienna. The album contains other dedications by the main culture heroes of the time, including the Russian author Lev Tolstoy, the Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi, and the Austrian National theater (Burgtheater) actors in Vienna.
The high closing prices indicate a growing trend regarding collection items connected to Herzl and to Zionism. Kedem Auction House report that in the past years, the prices of item belonging to these categories have mounted by hundreds and even thousands of percentage points. "In recent years we observe that there is an increasing interest in Zionist items, and specifically those concerning Herzl, even among those who are not collectors. We predict that with this evolving trend, the prices will rise even more, as we have seen in the last auction" summarized Meron Eren, one of the owners of Kedem.
Herzl is widely revered in Israel as the founding father of the modern political Zionist movement. His portrait is the only one that adorns the Knesset's plenum.