Page 55 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 54

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1. From the announcement of the auction in April, 1984,
until the auction took place on June 26, 1984.
2. From the auction until the Court Order of September 17,1984,
prohibiting the distribution of the proceeds of the sale and
starting the process of “discovery,” a legal term for pre-trial ac­
tivity such as depositions, gathering and exchanging of docu­
ments, etc., relative to the lawsuit.
3. The publicly quiet phase until the date set for the trial, Septem­
ber, 1984, to June 24, 1985.
4. The Settlement phase, until August 14, 1986.
5. The establishment and the activities of the Judaica Con­
servancy Foundation.
This survey should be recognized as preliminary because it will
be relatively short and because the documentation to which I have
had access is certainly not complete. What I have used is what I
collected as events unfolded—the auction catalog itself, news re­
leases, various memoranda of the plaintiff and the defendants, dep­
ositions, affidavits, court orders, and of course, my files, especially
of the affairs of the Judaica Conservancy Foundation.3 Further­
more, given the focus on the Conservancy Foundation, I will nat­
urally concentrate on those facets of the multi-faceted background
that are, in my opinion, most relevant.
FIRST ANNOUNCEMENT
On April 13, 1984, Rita Reifs column in the
New York Times
en­
titled “Auction”mentioned that Sotheby’s would be auctioning on
June 26, a fifteenth century illuminated Hebrew Bible manuscript
from Prague. Sotheby’s George Snyder is quoted as saying that “In
the 20th century, the work changed hands several times “ and that
“the identity of the owner was unknown and that all negotiations
had been conducted through agents.”
Reifs article was probably the first public notice of the upcom­
ing sale, and it included the first cryptic sign that Sotheby’s meant
The Guttmann Affair
3.
The documentation for this article is in these footnotes and, to the extent
possible, right in the text.