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Sunday, May 26, 2024 | Back issues
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Holocaust Survivor in Struggle With Museum

FORT LAUDERDALE (CN) - A Holocaust survivor says a Holocaust museum facing foreclosure harassed her for a $1 million donation, stole her property, and didn't use her contributions for their intended purposes.

Zipora Geva, as guardian of Ada Feingold, who is 89, sued the Holocaust Documentation and Education Center, of Hollywood, Fla.

Geva claims that in 2004 Feingold agreed to donate her late husband's artwork to the defendant and gave it $100,000, as part of an alleged $1 million donation, with the understanding that the center would permanently feature the art in its Holocaust museum, which has yet to open.

According to the complaint, the center executive vice president Rositta Kenigsberg wrote Geva in 2005, requesting that she consider a $1 million donation.

In 2006, Feingold donated an additional $20,000, the complaint states.

It adds: "On November 14, 2007, the ward [Feingold] invited Mrs. Kenigsberg to her home to collect the ward's husband's artwork to be donated to the Holocaust Documentation Center. Plaintiff's husband videotaped the event. In the video, upon arriving at the ward's home, Mrs. Kenigsberg is seen heading for paintings by the well-known artist, Chaim Gross. When she approached the Chaim Gross artwork, Mrs. Kenigsberg mentioned Chaim Gross' name. She was told by plaintiff's husband, who had previously stickered each piece of art to be donated, that the Chaim Gross artwork was not the artwork of the ward's late husband. Chaim Gross' artwork is not Holocaust-related and was not intended by the ward to be donated to the Holocaust Documentation Center. While the ward was distracted by a companion of Mrs. Kenigsberg, Mrs. Kenigsberg is observed surreptitiously removing two Chaim Gross paintings from the walls of the ward's home. Obtaining Chaim Gross' artwork appeared to be Mrs. Kenigsberg's goal from the moment she entered the Ward's home. The Chaim Gross artwork is among the most valuable of the ward's personal property. It was autographed personally by the artist to the ward and her late husband. Mrs. Kenigsberg eventually returned the paintings after she was told it appeared she intentionally took the Chaim Gross artwork without anyone's permission and that it was videotaped."

In the next two years, Feingold donated an additional $10,000, and another $7,360 to have her donated artwork framed, but her relationship with the Holocaust Documentation and Education Center turned sour, according to the complaint.

The complaint states: "In a May 10, 2010 letter from the Holocaust Documentation Center's attorney, Alex Hofrichter, a donation summary showing contributions from the ward to the Holocaust Documentation Center demonstrates that from April 2005 to April 2010 the ward's contributions totaled $149,230. This letter was sent in response to plaintiff's counsel's request on behalf of the ward for an accounting and requesting that the Holocaust Documentation Center cease from harassing the ward and her family. The summary provided by the Holocaust Documentation Center failed to disclose an additional $12,360 in donations and contributions and despite a request for copies of any signed pledge agreements, none were provided. In fact, the ward has donated more than $260,000 to the Holocaust Document Center."

Geva claims that the harassment did not stop, and that "on July 14, 2010, the ward, then fully competent, initiated voluntary guardianship proceedings naming plaintiff, Zipora Geva, as her voluntary guardian. The ward wanted the voluntary guardianship because of her concerns about the Holocaust Documentation Center and as a way to stop the Holocaust Documentation Center from pursuing and harassing her for money."

Geva claims the center continued to harass Feingold with repeated phone calls demanding money, despite knowing that Feingold was under guardianship. She claims: "The ward was very upset about the continued harassment."

The complaint adds: "Notwithstanding the fact that every attempt to gain control of the ward's funds failed, and even after repeated requests by plaintiff and plaintiff's attorney for the Holocaust Documentation Center to cease and desist the harassment, various Board members attempted to contact the ward via telephone calls seven times between January 25, 2011 and February 2, 2011".

Geva says the Holocaust Documentation and Education Center is facing foreclosure.

She want Feingold's pledges declared invalid, the artworks returned, and compensatory damages.

She is represented by Rebecca Fischer.

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