The Ark from the synagogue in Siret, Romania that had been dismantled and taken to Israel, was sold at auction in Jerusalem on Wednesday for $50,000 — despite efforts by the Romanian Jewish Federation FEDROM to halt the sale. Romanian police are conducting a criminal investigation for theft to determine how the Ark was removed from the synagogue.
As we reported last week, persons who removed the ark (ostensibly for restoration) substituted a replica in its place, rather than the restored original. FEDROM on Feb. 15 had filed a criminal complaint for fraud and issued a statement urging the auction house to halt the sale.
Local media said Interpol had been informed by Romanian police.
“We await the outcome of the investigation,” the news site libertatea.ro quoted FEDROM President Aurel Vainer as saying. “We are very sorry that this happened. It must be determined how it was taken out of the country.”
The Moreshet auction house stated that the Ark had been sold for $50,000 but gave no information as to the buyer.
In a telephone interview with the Jewish Chronicle before the auction, a lawyer for Moreshet, David Mena, said he believed that the Ark “will be installed in a synagogue” and that a bidder from London was “interested in the piece.”
Moreshet has maintained that it has paperwork that proves that ark was brought to Israel legally, but to date has not made this documentation available.