RootsTech 2015

Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Genealogical Success Story in the New York Times about MyHeritage

A New York Time article entitled "Loot No Longer, A Reporter in France Helps to Return Art Taken by the Nazis" is about how MyHeritage.com is having a significant impact in returning art masterpieces to Jewish families from which the artwork was taken before and during World War II. The CEO of MyHeritatge.com, Gilad Japhet aided a French Reporter in returning the paintings which now hang in collections throughout France. As stated by Daniel Horowitz, Chief Genealogist and Translation Manager at MyHeritage, in an email to me:

Not every CEO, even those from genealogy companies can use their own personal genealogy expertise and time to help others pro-bono as Gilad did for this article by Doreen. It's great praise of MyHeritage's technologies which were built by genealogists for genealogists and were used to discover the rightful heirs of these stolen art works. Gilad's fluent French definitely helped here too!
The New York Times article paints a picture of bureaucratic bungling for over 60 years, as the French government dragged their feet on returning the paintings to their rightful owners. Many of the owners were killed in the Holocaust and tracking down the heirs has become a major problem as the years go by and people die and records are lost. Quoting from the article:
Over the past 60 years, the French have returned just 80 of the so-called orphaned works of art. The rest, some of them masterpieces, sit or hang in 57 French museums, which are their guardians until the rightful owners can be found.
The reporter attributes his success to his contact with MyHeritage's CEO. He states in the article:
To be candid, I had help. His name is Gilad Japhet, and he’s chief executive of MyHeritage.com, a large social networking site for family trees. When I was stumped by errors in family history, name changes, misspellings, faulty years and false matches, he routinely bailed me out.
 I have a special interest in this type of activity since I have used my genealogical skills and the power of the Internet to solve several of my own family mysteries and I am currently working on one concerning a photographic collection from France.

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