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 Superintendent McCaul Introduces Governor Pataki and
Opens Ceremony and Presentation of Paintings Returned to Holocaust Victims

November 27, 2001

Ruth Haller addresses the audience following the return of two of her father's paintings. Left to Right:  Superintendent Elizabeth McCaul, Monica Dugot, Ruth Haller, Jane Lerner, Catherine Lillie, and Chaim Haller all pose with "Seated Nude on Blue Cushion," one of the returned paintings.
Ruth Haller addresses the audience following the return of two of her father's paintings. From left to right: New York County D.A. Robert Morganthau, Superintendent Elizabeth McCaul, Ruth Haller, Governor George Pataki, and Chaim Haller. Left to Right: Superintendent Elizabeth McCaul, Monica Dugot, Ruth Haller, Jane Lerner, Catherine Lillie, and Chaim Haller all pose with "Seated Nude on Blue Cushion," one of the returned paintings.

The Department's Holocaust Claims Processing Office returned two paintings to the heirs of Holocaust victim Dr. Ismar Littmann. Governor Pataki unveiled the works at a press conference held at his New York City office. The following is the Superintendent's remarks and introduction for the Governor.


Good Morning, I'm Elizabeth McCaul, New York's Superintendent of Banks. I would like to thank Governor Pataki for inviting us here today and for his long-standing commitment to Holocaust victims and their heirs. I would also like to welcome two very special guests who traveled from Israel to be with us today—Ruth and Chaim Haller, - Ruth and Chaim were two of the first people to file an art claim with the Holocaust Claims Processing Office (HCPO). I am also pleased to once again welcome Jane Lerner to New York for a second time to see more paintings recovered from her grandfather’s collection. Finally, I would like to welcome members of Neil Levin’s family who are here. Today’s event is a testament to his commitment and dedication to Holocaust victims and their heirs and to the work of the HCPO.

Many of you know that Governor Pataki created the Holocaust Claims Processing Office in 1997 to serve as an advocate for Holocaust victims and their heirs who are seeking to recover assets wrongfully taken during the Nazi regime.

The HCPO is an important part of the State Banking Department and we have an extraordinary staff. Our staff speaks over ten languages and is able to converse directly with claimants who call from all over the world.

It is the only state agency of its kind.

Since the HCPO opened, it has received almost 5,000 claims from 35 countries and 44 states. Of these, 2,313 are bank claims, 2,277 are insurance claims, and 119 are art claims.

Included in these numbers are a significant number of individuals who lived in pre-war Europe and who seek to recover assets believed to be held by banks in Switzerland. They account for more than 2,200 claims from 30 different countries and reference over 3,200 individuals.

Today’s announcement is especially important because we now have recovered a total of three paintings for the Littmann heirs and have the pleasure of being joined by the only surviving child of Dr. Littmann to reclaim parts of her father’s collection – who you will all meet shortly, Mrs. Ruth Haller.

Many families lost everything and everyone as a result of Nazi persecution. We hope that Dr. Littmann's heirs find comfort in the knowledge that we will not rest until we have determined the fate of every last piece of their family's collection.

I am very proud of the HCPO’s work to retrieve these two paintings; their work with the Littmann heirs and Sotheby’s has helped to ensure that we can now appreciate parts of Dr. Littmann’s collection once again. If it were not for the work of Monica Dugot, Catherine Lillie and the entire staff of the Holocaust Claims Processing Office, these paintings would not be here today.

I would once again like to commend our Governor, for his work and commitment to our office. He has shown tremendous leadership in the area of Holocaust restitution and we at the Banking Department are very fortunate to have him on our side, encouraging us and working with us.

Our Governor has shown tremendous leadership in guiding New York towards healing and recovery and has provided a great sense of stability and security to our State and our City. He has inspired us with his calm strength and grace in the midst of all of our sadness. His resolve continues to guide us forward encouraging us to live our lives.

His vision is leading us toward an even better New York.

With that, I am very pleased to introduce the Governor of the State of New York, Governor George Pataki.

see related press release