In June of 1997, Governor George E. Pataki acted on the suggestions the late former Superintendent of Banks Neil D. Levin and created an office with the sole purpose of assisting Holocaust survivors and their heirs to recover assets wrongfully held by Swiss banks. The result was the establishment of the Holocaust Claims Processing Office (HCPO). Never before had a government office existed solely to assist Holocaust survivors and their heirs to recover assets.
The mission of the Office expanded quickly to include accepting Holocaust-era claims against European banks, claims against insurance companies on unpaid policies and claims seeking the recovery of lost or looted art. The Office accepts claims from anywhere in the world and charges no fees for its services.
Since the Office's inception, it has responded to approximately 9,600 inquiries resulting in 4,720 claims from 44 states and 34 countries. As of 2002, 2,300 were bank claims, 2,300 were insurance claims, and 120 were art claims.
The HCPO staff are experts in banking, law, economics, finance, political science, archives, history, and art history. In addition, the staff is fluent in multiple languages to better serve their international claimants.
As of year-end 2002, the HCPO had helped to recover nearly $5 million in offers to claimants seeking the proceeds of Holocaust-era insurance policies. The HCPO also assisted with the recovery of almost $2 million in offers to claimants seeking return of Holocaust-era bank accounts.
Art Recovered To Date:
- Lesser Ury The Seamstress, 1883 - Claimant from U.S.
- Gustav Klimt Lady with Feather Boa, drawing 1909 - Claimant
from U.S. (New York City) 1999
- Lucas Cranach Madonna and Child, 1518 - Claimants from
- Alexander Kanoldt Olevano, 1927 - Claimants from U.S./Israel
- Karl Hofer Seated Nude on Blue Cushion, 1927 - Claimants
from U.S./Israel 2001
- Lovis Corinth Portrait of Charlotte Corinth, 1915 - Claimants
from U.S./Israel 2001
- Juan Gris Bouteille, verre et journal - Claimants from
- Theobald Michau A River Landscape - Claimants from U.S.
- Emil Nolde's Bauernhof - Claimants from U.S. 2002