The son of a Holocaust survivor claims a struggling unaccredited Jewish museum is auctioning off a World War II artifact that he inherited from his late father without his permission, according to a new lawsuit.
Rabbi Hyman Rubin says he discovered the 8-foot-tall Krumbach Aron Kodesh — which was gifted to his Auschwitz survivor father Rabbi Menachem Mendal Rubin from the US Army Corps of Engineers after the war — was illegally put up for auction at Guernsey’s last week, according to his Manhattan Supreme Court suit filed late Monday.
Rubin’s late parents hauled the large piece with them from Germany to Brooklyn in the 1940s, and in 2006, a year before he passed, the father endowed it to Rabbi Shaul Shimon Deutsch to keep at the Living Torah Museum in Brooklyn with the promise Deutsch would never sell or transfer it, the court papers say.
Since Rubin is the successor of his father’s congregation, he is “the religious custodian and sole owner of the Dynasty’s relics, including The Krumbach Torah Ark,” and Deutsch should have gotten his permission before he put it on the auction block, the court documents allege.
Rubin’s suit claims while the auction listing says the Ark “was gifted” from the late rabbi to Deutsch in 2002, the son has a document signed by Deutsch in 2006 in which he agrees to the condition “to not sell the Holy Ark or to transfer it to another organization or to make any change without the permission of the Rabbi,” according to the suit.
The auction listing continues to say, “However, with donations on the decline over the last several years, the not-for-profit Museum is struggling. With the hope that it will find a new and meaningful home, the Krumbach Ark will be sold.”
The suit also argues that the Living Torah Museum isn’t actually a real museum since it was never “chartered” as one by the Board of Regents.
Rubin is asking for a temporary restraining order to stop the Sept. 19 auction — where the piece is expected to sell for between $1 and $2 million — and wants the relic back. He’s suing the auction house, the museum, Deutsch and others at the museum.
A lawyer for Deutsch and the museum, Geoffrey Bowser, said, “We believe we will be able to establish that we have the true right of ownership.”
Bowser added they want to auction the item, “to ensure the Ark is sold to an institution that is going to be able to take care of it and display it for the world to appreciate.”
The museum’s lawyer, Richard Herzfeld, said, “We’ve taken it on consignment, and our consignor told us they are free to sell it and these gentlemen [the plaintiffs] say otherwise.
“We are looking forward to a quick resolution so hopefully the auction can go forward as planned.”
Read more at THE NY POST.