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Governor Pataki Expands Role of Holocaust Claims Office
- Office Adds Search For Lost, Looted Art to Banking, Insurance Claims -

May 6, 1998

Governor George E. Pataki today announced New York will continue to build on its historic efforts to help Holocaust survivors and their heirs seek justice by broadening the State Banking Department's Holocaust Claims Processing Office's mission to include the search for art works that were lost, stolen or looted in the years before and during World War II.

"Our Holocaust Claims Processing Office is already leading the way in the fight for justice for Holocaust survivors and their heirs as they examine the fate of dormant Swiss bank accounts and uncollected European insurance policies from one of history's darkest eras, " Governor Pataki said.

However, we must do more. Some of the world's finest art works were also looted or stolen under Nazi oppression between 1933 and 1945 and some non-governmental agencies are already accepting claims. The acceptance of art claims is a logical extension of the Holocaust Claims Office's responsibilities.

"Many of these works were maintained in safe deposit boxes or listed on insurance policies and, as such, the search for lost and stolen valuables dovetails with the banking and insurance issues we're already investigating." the Governor said.

Groups such as the Holocaust Art Restitution Project (HARP), the World Jewish Congress' Commission for Art Recovery, and The Art Loss Register are some of the organizations which have accepted and investigated claims in recent months.

The Holocaust Claims Processing Office (HCPO), a division of the New York State Banking Department, opened in September, 1997. Since then, the Office has received more than 3,000 telephone and written inquiries and nearly 1,400 people have completed claims forms, giving details of dormant bank accounts and uncollected insurance policies which may belong to Holocaust survivors and/or their heirs.

Acting Superintendent of Banks Elizabeth McCaul said, "We expect to work very closely with the Art Loss Register, HARP, and the Commission for Art Recovery in the search for lost or stolen art works. These organizations bring a variety or important research and investigative skills to the effort, which will be a tremendous resource for us when claims are filed with us.

"Moreover, the lack of a central clearinghouse for the processing of these claims has been of concern to the art industry and Holocaust survivor groups. By expanding the mission of the Holocaust Claims Processing Office in this way, we're bringing the necessary focus and impartiality needed to expedite these claims, "Acting Superintendent McCaul said.

There is no charge for using the services of the Holocaust Claims Processing Office (HCPO) and their toll-free telephone number is 1-800-695-3318. Those wishing to contact the HCPO in writing may address their correspondence to its main office at 2 Rector Street, New York, NY 10006 or via e-mail at http://www.claims.state.ny.us.

 

 

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