August 7, 2006

NY antiques dealer sued, sues over stolen Torah

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A New York antiques dealer is caught
in a legal battle between the French government and Christie's
auction house over the sale of a 13th century Jewish manuscript
stolen from a French library.

The French government sued Yosef Goldman, who bought the
Torah for $358,000 six years ago, on grounds that the
manuscript was stolen from France's Bibliotheque Nationale,
where it was known as "Hebrew 52."

In turn, Goldman has now sued Christie's for selling the
item to him at a New York auction in May 2000. Goldman's
lawsuit asks Christie's to refund the $358,000 he paid for the

Christie's said that at the time of the auction it did not
know the item was stolen.

"We believe (Goldman's) claim is baseless," Christie's
spokesman Toby Usnik said on Monday, adding that Christie's
"will continue to work with Bibliotheque Nationale Library to
seek the return of the manuscript."

Goldman's suit, a copy of which his lawyer provided to
Reuters, says the Torah is currently in the possession of an
anonymous customer who bought it from him.