On August 1, 1960, I received a letter from a man who identified himself as a Virginia clergyman. The letter stated that the writer was in a position to negotiate the sale of “important, authentic discoveries of Dead Sea Scrolls.” Obviously, he contacted me because of my intimate involvement in Israel’s acquisition of the original Dead Sea Scrolls six years earlier.
In a subsequent letter, Mr. Z, as I shall refer to him, indicated the price for an entire scroll would be around one million dollars, since the Jordanian dealer who possessed the material (and here he named a well-known dealer involved in previous transactions for the purchase of Dead Sea Scrolls, whom I shall call “the dealer”) “knows their true value.” I informed Mr. Z of my willingness to negotiate only if the price was reasonable in comparison to the price paid to the Metropolitan Samuel for the original Dead Sea Scrolls.
An exchange of correspondence ensued, and on October 7, I purchased from Mr. Z—or through him—a fragment of the Psalms Scroll from cave 11 at Qumran. The pieces adjacent to this fragment were in the Rockefeller Museum, and how Mr. Z obtained this fragment—before the other fragments were obtained by the museum, or after—we shall never know. In any event, it was clear he had access to authentic materials from the Dead Sea Scroll caves.