MANHATTAN (CN) – The daughter of the Soviet Union’s “preeminent World War II photographer” sued an agent, demanding return of her father’s photos and negatives. “The prints include copies of what is perhaps the most famous image of the Allied victory over Nazi Germany: the raising of the Soviet flag over the Reichstag during the capture of Berlin,” Anna Efimovna Khaldei says in her federal complaint.
Khaldei, a Russian citizen, says she has spent more than 10 years fighting for the body of work of her late father, Evgeny (Efim) Khaldei. She claims that 7 months before her father died in October 1997, the 80-year-old man signed a 20-year contract with Kalman Kaspiev, authorizing Kaspiev to act as the photographer’s “worldwide agent.”
Kaspiev took possession of 248 photographic prints and approximately 3,000 negatives, according to the complaint.
Khaldei says the prints have sold for thousands of dollars at auction, and that the complete collection is worth more than $75,000.
She says Kaspiev has ignored her attempts to take back her father’s photos, and ignored a 2001 judgment entered against him in Monmouth County, N.J.
The Monmouth County sheriff’s office could not locate Kaspiev, but Khaldei says she and her attorney found Kaspiev’s cell phone number in 2007 and have spoken to him several times about returning the photos.
“In a phone conversation with plaintiff’s counsel in early March 2010, defendant stated that he did not know any details of the New Jersey lawsuit and had not seen any documents from it,” according to the complaint.
Khaldei says Kaspiev provided an address but failed to respond to her letter, which included copies of documents from the first lawsuit and judgment in New Jersey.
After Kaspiev submitted a pro se letter requesting change of venue to New York, Khaldei says, the New Jersey court accepted her request to dismiss the lawsuit without prejudice on the condition that Kaspiev appear in the New York lawsuit.
The Monmouth County court has revived the judgment of replevin for 20 years, according to the complaint.
Khaldei the New Jersey judgment enforced, and writ of replevin, alleging conversion and breach of contract. She is represented by Daniel Rothstein.