On January 9 the American Numismatic Society held its 2014 Annual Gala at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. The event honored Marian Scheuer Sofaer and the Honorable Abraham D. Sofaer, whose uncommon generosity to the ANS has spanned more than four decades, most recently with the donation of part of their extraordinary collection of over 5,000 coins from the Holy Land. This collection creates a lasting legacy, enabling scholars in archeology, history, and numismatics to pursue world-class research for many years to come.
A combination of some 200 guests and contributors helped the Society raise more than $200,000. The evening's very successful auction accounted for $36,000 of that total, thanks in good measure to the engaging personality of ANS Fellow Harmer Johnson. Mr. Johnson led the live auction with infectious humor and energy, crafting a lively atmosphere that promoted festive bidding on items that included rare bottles of wine, original drawings, a rock painted with portrait of Julius Cesaer , ancient coins, and dinner at the home of ANS Executive Director Ute Wartenberg Kagan. Gala guests were also entertained by the music of rising jazz star Dominick Farinacci and his band. Their set included a lovely vocal performance by Abe Sofaer, a passionate and longtime supporter of jazz as well as numismatics.
In presenting the Trustees' award to the Sofaers, ANS Chairman Kenneth L. Edlow was forced by necessity to condense the scope of both Marian and Abe's many non-numismatic achievements: Among numerous other positions, Marian has served as a New York State Assistant Attorney General and a New York City Assistant Corporation Counsel. She was also the co-producer of the award-winning documentary Poumy, a film about a young woman's role in the French Resistance during World War II, the project director for an historical exhibition in the synagogue in Chendamangalam, India, and an adviser to Kerala conservationists on the restoration of the synagogue at Parur. Finally, she is CEO, General Counsel and co-founder of Federal Arbitration, Inc., an organization providing high quality arbitration and mediation of civil disputes. Abe, meanwhile, has served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in New York, a U.S. District Judge in the Southern District, and Legal Advisor to the U.S. Department of State, as well as teaching at Columbia Law School. Currently he is the George P. Shultz Distinguished Scholar and Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, where his work focuses on the power over war within the US government and on issues related to international law, terrorism, diplomacy, and national security. Rounding out his activities, he is also a founding trustee of the National Museum of Jazz in Harlem and a member of the board of the Koret Foundation.
When it came to illuminating the Sofaers' connections to the ANS, however, Mr. Edlow could not help being expansive. "Marian Scheuer Sofaer and Abraham D. Sofaer have earned a place among the great benefactors of the American Numismatic Society," he said emphatically. "Their extraordinary decision to donate their collection to the Israel Museum and the American Numismatic Society ensures them a place among the most generous donors to these collections." Â He went on to trace the resonant, near Biblical proportions of their four-decade-long collecting, and noted how the Sofaers have for so long "fully embraced the concept of academic research."
"Abe's first coin purchase was a shekel of the first year of Jewish Revolt against Rome in 66 CE," he recounted. "Soon thereafter, Abe realized that coinage provided a unique opportunity to explore the rich cultural history of the Holy Land's many countries. He and Marian set out to create a collection that bears witness to the constant cultural and political change that has characterized the region."
"Last year saw a culmination of that effort with the publication by the ANS of the monumental, two-volume catalog of the Sofaer collection, edited by Adjunct Curator David Hendin and Deputy Director Andrew Meadows, a collection that now physically charts the ebb and flow of culture across a span of nearly two millennia. And Mr. Edlow thought it fitting to quote from Abe Sofaer's introduction to that catalog, by way of explaining what drives the passion of so many of us and makes the contemplation and study of these old objects so compelling: The Holy Land, Mr. Sofaer wrote, is important to many peoples in addition to the Jews; and every effort by one cultural group to dominate the area to the exclusion of others eventually failed. A stable future for the Holy Land requires a commitment by all groups in the area to maintain multi-cultural populations and tolerant regimes."
The ANS would like to thank all the Gala participants and guests whose generosity and enthusiasm made the evening such a stunning success, and to especially acknowledge the sponsors and other donors and supporters whose dedication has done so much to guarantee the financial health of the Society.
"We really could not exist were it not for the tremendous contributions of our donors," said ANS' Executive Director Ute Wartenberg Kagan. "Among them, of course, are our honorees, Marian and Abe Sofaer, and I am thrilled that this year's Gala had such a wonderful outcome, from every perspective."
The ANS Gala was sponsored by 14 Benefactor, Patron, Sustainer, and Friend sponsors, and by over 50 other donors and supporters.
Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth L. Edlow
Anderson & Anderson
Whitman Publishing, LLC
Classical Numismatic Group, Inc.
Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP
Stack's Bowers Galleries
Mr. and Mrs. John Adams
Dr. Alain Baron, NG SA
Harlan J. Berk, Ltd.
B & H Kreindler
Gemini Numismatic Auctions, LLC
Mr. David Hendin
Heritage Auction Galleries
Mr. Sydney F. Martin
Mrs. Marian Scheuer Sofaer and the Honorable Abraham D. Sofaer
Mr. Harvey G. Stack
Mr. Lawrence R. Stack
For more information contact Joanne Isaac, Museum Administrator at Isaac@numismatics.org or ext 112.