Return of Ancient 'Treasure'

, New York Law Journal


An ancient golden tablet dating to the Assyrian Empire was returned to a Berlin museum Wednesday in a Nassau County Surrogate's Court ceremony.

The event followed a recent ruling from the New York Court of Appeals that the Vorderasiatisches Museum, not the estate of Holocaust survivor Riven Flamenbaum, was the Isthar Temple tablet's rightful owner.

The museum discovered the artifact went missing at the end of World War II. Flamenbaum's family lore is that he traded a Red Cross aid package to a Russian solider for the tablet. In the photo above, a redemption order is signed by Surrogate Edward McCarty, who called the tablet not just "an artifact," but "a treasure." Standing behind him are, left to right, attorney Steven Schlesinger, who represented the Flamenbaum estate; A. Ellen Goelz, of the German consulate; Raymond Dowd of Dunnington Bartholow & Miller and John Fisher of Hamberger Weinschenk & Fisher, who represented the museum.

Below, Dowd watches Dr. Ralf Wartke, deputy director of the museum, authenticate the tablet. At bottom, Wartke accepts the tablet.

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