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Heirs Sue Israel Museum to Recuperate 14th Century Manuscript – ARTnews.com


A 14th-century Hebrew manuscript is the topic of a lawsuit filed this week in opposition to the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. The establishment has denied claims by heirs of a German-Jewish lawmaker that the museum has “illegal possession” of the spiritual guide, which has been in its assortment for almost seventy years.

This is the primary lawsuit in opposition to a museum in Israel to recuperate property misplaced within the Holocaust.

Four heirs of Ludwig Marum, a Jewish-German politician and public opponent of the Third Reich, introduced forth the declare in a New York state courtroom. In courtroom paperwork reviewed by ARTnews, the legal professional representing the heirs mentioned the swimsuit was filed in New York as a result of the museum conducts enterprise by way of the Manhattan nonprofit American Friends of the Israel Museum.

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The medieval manuscript dubbed Bird’s Head Haggadah is believed to have been produced in southern Germany across the 12 months 1300. It is named the oldest surviving Ashkenazi Passover Haggadah, a quantity containing ritual textual content that’s used for spiritual remark. The lawsuit claims the guide is price an estimated $10 million.

Marum was killed in 1934 below official Nazi orders. Marum initially obtained the script as a marriage current, the swimsuit says.

The swimsuit additional alleges that the museum initially bought the Haggadah tome in 1946 for $600, at present’s equal of $9,000 “in a backroom deal without obtaining any proof of ownership,” from a person who allegedly, “dealt in valuables of dubious origin,” Its whereabouts between then and when Marum was killed, are unknown.

The dispute across the museum’s possession of the artifact was first raised publicly in 2016 when Marum’s heirs started to hunt compensation from the museum for what they described as “illegal possession” of the guide.

The swimsuit claims that the museum later “removed and destroyed” a doc exhibiting that the Haggadah had been within the household’s possession for over seven many years. The submitting additionally accuses the establishment of failing to correctly examine the merchandise’s possession file, describing it as “stolen.”

The museum refutes this declare, arguing that, in 1984, Elizabeth — Marum’s daughter — penned a letter on behalf of the household saying the Haggadah ought to proceed to stay within the Museum’s assortment “for the benefit of the public.”

Marum’s heirs say that Elizabeth, grandmother to one of many plaintiffs, tried to recuperate the manuscript at the moment however that the museum “thwarted” her efforts. The criticism alleges the museum “unlawfully refused to acknowledge the legitimate ownership claims issued by Dr. Marum’s daughter Elisabeth.”

“She was repeatedly thwarted by the Museum,” the declare reads.

In an announcement, a spokesperson for the museum described the the heirs’ determination to sue as “unfortunate,” saying that the motion is “an attempt to undo her wishes.”

The legal professional representing the heirs, Meir Heller, mentioned in an announcement that the case has broader implications for bringing different restitution claims, “concerning hundreds of Nazi looted art and judaica pieces,” on the museum.

“There is no other governmental solution like an advisory committee to do justice with Holocaust victims and heirs,” he added.

The present case “will clarify that a legal action can be brought against the Israel Museum in the United States under the HEAR act,” he added, referring to a 2016 legislation suspending time-based authorized defenses to claims for artwork misplaced below the Nazi persecution.



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