14 May 2008

Chicago 2008: Schoenberg keynote speaker

Attorney and genealogist E. Randol Schoenberg will be the keynote speaker at the Sunday, August 15 opening of the 28th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy (August 15-22, Chicago).

Presenting "Recovering Nazi-Looted Art - A Genealogist's Tale," Schoenberg will describe how his genealogy skills facilitated his highly successful pursuit of Nazi-looted art cases.

He will share how his family research, a passion since childhood, was of critical importance in his legal work since he was aware of available genealogical resources that could be used as supporting documentation and how his family research gave him insight into the lives of individuals who lost art.

Cases highlighted will include the Republic of Austria v. Altmann (involving the return of Gustav Klimt paintings) and others involving Nazi-looted Picasso and Canaletto paintings.

An attorney with the Los Angeles firm of Burris, Schoenberg & Walden, he has litigated - over the past decade - several prominent Nazi-looted art cases, including Republic of Austria v. Altmann.

In that case, he sought the return of six famous Gustav Klimt paintings to his client. After persuading the U.S. Supreme Court that Maria Altmann could sue Austria for return of the paintings, he agreed to arbitrate the dispute in Austria. In January 2006, the arbitration panel decided that the paintings, valued at more than $325 million, should be returned to Mrs. Altmann.

Other successful cases: Winning a unanimous Austrian arbitration ruling ordering return of an $8 million Viennese building confiscated during the Nazi era; a $6.5 million settlement for a Nazi-looted Picasso painting; and a $3 million settlement for a Nazi-looted Canaletto painting.

Schoenberg's passion for genealogy began with a third-grade assignment when he was only 8; by 11, he had a 12-foot tree, with more than 300 people. When he was bored in school, he would practice writing out the family tree from memory.

He serves as coordinator, moderator and co-founder of the Austria-Czech SIG, author of the "Beginner's Guide to Austrian-Jewish Genealogy" and "Getting Started with Czech-Jewish Genealogy" (co-authored with Julius Muller). For two and a half years, he has served as board president of the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust.

For more information on the annual week-long IAJGS conference, which brings together Jewish genealogy experts, archivists and researchers of all levels from around the world for an intensive period of learning, sharing and networking, click here for details on registration, hotel and to view the program schedule.

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