Page 60 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 54

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HUC, was interviewed by McGill and said that the College would
not bid in the sale because the books and manuscripts were “taint­
The private sale of the two major manuscripts did not satisfy
these leaders of Reform Jewish institutions at least partly because
of a unique relationship to the Hochschule, which was Europe’s
counterpart to HUC in America. These Reform rabbis, and ulti­
mately the Attorney General, the JRSO, and others wanted “fall
public disclosure of the history of ownership of the books and
manuscripts since the war.” Among individuals who testified was
the late Dr. Fritz Bamberger, formerly a student and later a teacher
at the Hochschule. Dr. Bamberger expressed a widely-held view
that “it is most unlikely that the Lehranstalt [ =Hochschule] would
have unconditionally transferred any part of its library to any indi­
vidual in a manner which would give that individual legal title to
the property.”10
The feverish activities of the two weeks or so up to the sale day
ofJune 26 reached a climax when, only a few hours before the sale,
the Attorney General asked the New York Supreme Court to allow
Sotheby’s to hold the auction only to determine the highest bid­
ders but not to allow the consummation of the sale “until the At­
torney General was convinced the books and manuscripts were
legally owned. The judge rejected the request.”11
The auction took place and realized about $1,230,000 in addi­
tion to the $900,00 from the private pre-auction sale.
While the sale marked the end of a hectic period, two matters
continued quietly and then suddenly erupted in the press. The first
was the charge by the Attorney General, hereafter also referred to
as the Plaintiff, that Sotheby’s acted with “persistent fraud and il­
legality” because the auction house knew “that the seller could not
9. McGill,
New York Times,
June 19, 1984; June 22, and June 27.
10. Fritz Bamberger,
June 25, 1984, p. 2.
11. McGill, June 27, 1984.