German Museum Loses Attempt to Reclaim Artifact From Estate

06 Apr 2010 9:38 AM | Anonymous

German Museum Loses Attempt to Reclaim Artifact From Estate

New York Law Journal

April 06, 2010

An ancient gold tablet excavated in Iraq from the site of an ancient Assyrian temple by German archaeologists in 1913

An ancient gold tablet excavated in Iraq from the site of an ancient Assyrian temple by German archaeologists in 1913

An ancient gold tablet unearthed in a 1913 dig in modern-day Iraq that mysteriously ended up in the possession of a Holocaust survivor will remain in his estate, a surrogate has ruled, rather than be returned to a German museum.

In a ruling that reads like a script for an Indiana Jones movie, Nassau County, N.Y., Surrogate John B. Riordan (See Profile) held that the Berlin museum, where the tablet had been kept for 19 years before its sudden disappearance at the end of World War II, could not stake a claim to the artifact as it had not acted promptly to recover it.

"The court finds that the museum's lack of due diligence was unreasonable," Surrogate Riordan wrote in Matter of Flamenbaum, File No. 328416, in holding that the museum's claim was barred by the doctrine of laches.

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