(JTA) — An auction house in New York suspended the sale of a document that a Jewish community in Romania said had been stolen from it.
Kestenbaum & Company, a Brooklyn firm that has specialized in the care of rare Judaic material culture for 25 years, on Wednesday pulled off its catalog what the Jewish Community of Cluj says is a 19th-century ledger from its Jewish burial society.
“The handwritten register has great value as a historical document, covering over 50 years of the history of the Orthodox Jewish Community, right from the year of the founding of the Society in 1836, but it is also a valuable art object, due to its exceptional aesthetic presentation,” the Jewish community wrote in a statement published Monday.
The ledger disappeared during the Holocaust and therefore is “stolen property,” the letter said.
The World Jewish Restitution Organization also said it had asked the auction, which was scheduled to begin Thursday, not to go through.
“Any item that passes through our hands is subject to detailed investigation in this regard,” a Kestenbaum spokesperson told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in an email. “Consequently, in respect to recently acquired information, Lot 33 has been withdrawn from our Judaica auction scheduled for Thursday February 18th.”