October 18, 2011
Schoenberg buys Einstein letter for Holocaust museum
See below for complete letter.
The “anonymous” buyer of a historic letter by Albert Einstein has identified himself as E. Randol “Randy” Schoenberg, president of the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust.
Schoenberg paid $13,936 for the one-page letter, signed by Einstein on his personal stationery and written on June 10, 1939 to New York businessman Hyman Zinn.
Einstein congratulated Zinn for aiding Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany, adding “We [Jews] have no other means of self-defense than our solidarity and our knowledge that the cause for which we are suffering is a momentous and sacred cause.”
The letter had been put up for sale by the Nate D. Sanders auction house in West Los Angeles, and Schoenberg said he learned of its availability from a jewishjournal.com article, just a day before bids closed.
The highest bid at that time was $3,058, and Sanders himself estimated that the letter might go for between $5,000 to $7,000.
Schoenberg’s late entry spurred some lively bidding, until he finally clinched the deal with his offer of nearly $14,000.
Schoenberg, a Los Angeles-born lawyer and grandson of famed composer Arnold Schoenberg, is donating the letter to the museum, which opened its striking new building a year ago in the Pan Pacific Park.
He gained wide attention, and considerable wealth, by pursuing a seven-year legal battle forcing the Austrian government to return five paintings by the Viennese artist Gustav Klimt, valued at more than $325 million, to a descendant of the original Jewish owners.
Besides his policy and administrative duties at the museum, Schoenberg has been deeply involved in its financial support, the design of the building and in curating its contents.