Page 25 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 47

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ZAFREN / FROM HOCHSCHULE TO JUDAICA CONSERVANCY FOUNDATION
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perished in the Holocaust. The third person met Dr. Guttmann
after the war but never mentioned the books.
The Attorney General has challenged two aspects o f Dr.
Guttmann’s story: his claim that he was given title to, rather than
entrusted with, the collection, or alternatively, his claim that Dr.
Veit Simon had the authority to transfer title to this property
absent consent o f the remaining members o f the Board o f Di­
rectors, pursuant to the Hochschule’s internal regulations. It is
the Attorney General’s position that the collection was entrusted
to Dr. Guttmann for safekeeping with the intent that it eventually
be made available to the Jewish people in a safe place such as
London.
In dealing with the legal framework, Justice White remarked:
With respect to those disputed issues o f fact . . . the Attorney
General has made a preliminary showing that he is likely to pre­
vail . . . The Court notes that Dr. Guttmann has waited for over
forty years to sell the collection and has sought anonymity in
so doing. There is every indication that rather than share these
master works with other scholars upon his arrival in this country,
he actively concealed their existence. These actions are not con­
sistent with a firmly held belief in his rightful title . . . [Further,]
if Dr. Veit Simon did not have the power to transfer title, and
no surrounding circumstances are developed at trial which would
excuse strict compliance with any formalities, Dr. Guttmann and
Sotheby’s will not prevail, even if the trier o f fact gives Dr.
Guttmann’s story full credence.
TRIAL ORDERED
In ending the first phase o f the legal contest with an O rde r
dated September 17, the judge o rde red Sotheby’s to retain the
proceeds o f the sale and any books or manuscripts that had
not been tu rned over to purchasers and instructed Plaintiff and
Defendants to p repare for a trial.
August 15 was when Justice White issued his opinion (the O r­
der was September 17), when Guttmann’s attorney apparently
supplied information to the press, and when the telephones at
HUC rang off the hook. Dr. Guttmann was a professor emeritus
at HUC, and
he
apparently couldn’t be reached by telephone;
it was natural for the press to call the College. Since HUC as
an institution was not involved beyond its decision against bidding
in the sale, it tried with some success at first to treat queries as
Library reference questions — questions o f fact that might be
answered from readily available information sources.