The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Tuesday, September 21, 2021


Jewish burial records among items seized by U.S. authorities
A bound memorial register of Jewish burials in the city between 1836 and 1899 was one of 17 documents offered for, and then withdrawn from sale, at Kestenbaum & Co., a Brooklyn auction house that specializes in Judaica.

by Colin Moynihan



NEW YORK (NYT NEWS SERVICE).- A historic register of Jewish burial records from the modern-day Romanian city of Cluj-Napoca is among artifacts that have been recovered as part of a seizure by authorities in New York who plan to return the objects to their communities of origin.

On Thursday, federal prosecutors in Brooklyn announced the seizure of 17 Jewish funeral scrolls, manuscripts and other records, which they describe as having been taken from Jewish communities in Romania, Hungary, Ukraine and Slovakia during World War II.

“Absent any provenance or documentation of conveyance from any survivors of those communities, there is no legitimate means by which the manuscripts and scrolls could have been imported into the United States,” the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn said in its announcement of the seizure.

Jacquelyn Kasulis, the acting U.S. attorney, said in a statement that the items were “illegally confiscated during the Holocaust” and contain “priceless historical information.”

All of the items had been offered for sale earlier this year by Kestenbaum & Co., an auction house in Brooklyn that specializes in Judaica, authorities said. The New York Times reported in February that Kestenbaum offered and then withdrew from sale 17 items, including the burial register. That withdrawal took place following requests from a restitution organization and Jewish community leadership in Romania.

In an affidavit that was submitted to the court as part of an application for a search warrant, Megan Buckley, a special agent with the Department of Homeland Security, wrote that Kestenbaum had offered 21 manuscripts, scrolls and other items for sale. She added that nearly all of those had disappeared or were believed to have been “confiscated by individuals or entities” who had no legal right to them, either during or just after the Holocaust.

“They represent invaluable cultural religious artifacts that should be properly returned to the survivors of their original Jewish communities,” Buckley wrote.

Buckley also wrote in the affidavit, dated July 20, that 17 of the 21 items were believed to be in the possession of an unnamed person on the Upper East Side of Manhattan who had consigned them for sale.

Soon after Kestenbaum listed items for sale, a genealogy researcher noticed one in particular, a burial register handwritten in Hebrew and Yiddish and known as the Pinkas Klali D’Chevra Kadisha.




The researcher told Robert Schwartz, president of the Jewish Community of Cluj, about the item. Then the Community of Cluj and the World Jewish Restitution Organization asked that the sale be halted, with Schwartz citing the historic value of the register and telling the auction house that it had been “appropriated illegally by persons who have not been identified.”

Kestenbaum granted the request, telling The New York Times in an email message: “We take the matter of title to be one of the utmost importance.” The person who had put the items up for auction — described by Kestenbaum as a “scholarly businessman” who had acted for years to preserve historical artifacts — agreed to discuss the matter further with the restitution organization, the auction house added.

The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

Law enforcement officials learned of the planned sale in February and contacted the auction house and the consignor. While Kestenbaum cooperated with an investigation into the artifacts, Buckley wrote in her affidavit, the auction house had sold one or more items before being contacted by law enforcement.

Buckley added that although the person who had consigned the items for auction was also cooperating, officials were concerned that might not last.

“The consignor has repeatedly expressed that he feels that he should be compensated for having the manuscripts and scrolls which contributes to the government’s concerns of potential liquidation,” she wrote. “Indeed, the consignor has expressly repeatedly stated his intention to sell the manuscripts and scrolls to international buyers.”

The material seized by the government includes records from cities that were decimated in the Holocaust. The U.S. attorney’s office said that the members of the communities from which the scrolls and manuscripts had been taken “had been gathered in ghettos, robbed of their property and deported to Nazi death camps, where the majority of them were killed.”

Schwartz, who is a Holocaust survivor, was born in hiding in a cellar after his pregnant mother escaped the city ghetto.

“Very little belonging to the community survived World War II,” he told The Times earlier this year, calling the burial register “very precious for the history of our community.”

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.










Today's News

July 24, 2021

A painting or an NFT of it: Which will be more valuable?

Jewish burial records among items seized by U.S. authorities

Ed Atkins and his mum are starring in a museum show

Frist Art Museum opens major Kara Walker exhibition

Splash of colour: UK beach huts brighten pandemic gloom

Suzanne Cotter appointed new Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia

White House on defensive over Hunter Biden art sales

Salzburg festival hall, a world temple in the sound of music

Vladimir Menshov, surprise Russian Oscar winner, dies at 81

Fans honour Amy Winehouse in London decade after her death

Meadows Museum announces appointment of two curatorial fellows

Maureen Paley opens a solo exhibition of works by Sarah Jones

Belvedere 21 presents 'Lois Weinberger: Basics'

Rare Campaign sofa comes up for auction at Bellmans

'En Plein Air Reloaded: Green Fuse' opens at Black & White Gallery / Project Space

Transformed Asian Art Museum unveils new pavilion with teamLab: Continuity

Nobel Prize awarded to immunogeneticist George Snell in 1980 to be auctioned

Romania mining town Rosia Montana eyes UNESCO restart

The music scene in this Brooklyn neighborhood is here to stay

At Salzburg, Don Giovanni gets no pleasure from seducing

A violinist on how to empower Asian musicians

Oscar Murillo unveils his global project Frequencies at his former school in Hackney

Great Barrier Reef avoids UNESCO 'in danger' listing

Avignon Festival forges ahead, despite virus restrictions

How to Improve Your Creative Skills?

Selecting The Best Bathroom Accessories

How Do You Pick The Best Windows For Your Home?

Is There A Chance I Could Lose My Job For A DUI?

If I've Been In A Vehicle Accident, Do I Need A Lawyer?

What Are The Costs Involved In Window Installation?

How Do I Go About Finding The Right Window/Door Materials?

Tips to Select the Perfect Gift For a Picky Individual




Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .

 



Founder:
Ignacio Villarreal
(1941 - 2019)
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

sa gaming free credit

Royalville Communications, Inc
produces:

ignaciovillarreal.org avemariasound.org juncodelavega.com facundocabral-elfinal.org
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
Hommage
to a Mexican poet.
Hommage
       

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site Parroquia Natividad del Señor
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful