Queensborough Students Take Top Prizes In the 2018 David A. Garfinkel Essay Scholarship Contest

Published: June 08, 2018

Two of the three winning essays in the 2018 Garfinkel Essay Contest belong to Queensborough students Frank Coniglio, first prize, and Rafael Ramos, third prize, for their outstanding compositions under the theme of Stolen Art from the Holocaust to the Present. The second prize winner is Bronx Community College student Adoracion Hernandez.

The David A. Garfinkel Essay Contest is open to students from community colleges across New York State, with awards given for essays submitted on topics related to New York legal history.  The competition draws students with a wide range of interests in law, history, social science and general research writing.  Professors Christine Mooney and Ted Rosen, both from the Business department, mentored the student participants. The awards ceremony was held at the Appellate Division, First Department Courthouse in New York City, and hosted by Presiding Justice of the Appellate Division, First Department, the Honorable Rolando T. Acosta.

Both Coniglio and Ramos chose to research and write about the case of Lea Bondi Jaray, an Austrian-Jewish art dealer, who owned an art gallery before the Nazi’s declared it “impure”, and seized all of the art gallery’s works, including the masterpiece, Portrait of Wally Neuzil, painted in 1912 by the artist Egon Schiele. Shortly thereafter, Jaray and her husband escaped to London.

An excerpt from Coniglio’s essay reads:

“Nazi Germany committed heinous crimes during WWII against the Jews and others, including looting valuable art. The effects of these crimes were felt for many decades by people all around the world. The case of Lea Bondi Jaray was just one of many cases of stolen art not being returned to their original owners. This case brought up many important legal issues. It [demonstrated] how a piece of artwork can be classified as stolen property under the National Stolen Property Act. The case wasn’t resolved for nearly eight decades, which shows that it wasn’t a primary concern of anyone except for Lea Bondi Jaray and her heirs. The actions taken by the courts ultimately led to an agreement in this case, but the Portrait of Wally Neuzil was never truly returned to its owner.”

The David A. Garfinkel Essay Contest experience helps students gain critical thinking skills and boosts self-motivation for expanding their knowledge base. There is also potential for past essay contest students to act as mentors to new student participants.

The first prize is $1,500, second prize is $1,000 and third prize is $500.

The contest is open to all CUNY and SUNY community college students.  Participation in the contest should appeal to students who are interested in law or history, or who want an opportunity to engage in research then write about a specified topic dealing with law and the history of the New York State courts.​

The subject matter and possible essay topics are released in the fall.  Students may submit their essay for the contest beginning in the fall and continuing through a specified date in April.

In previous years, the awards ceremony was held in the Court of Appeals courthouse in Albany.  This year the ceremony was moved to the Appellate Division, First Department courthouse located in Manhattan.

Students interested in participating in the contest next year, should contact the Business Department (Administration building, Room 405) for more information.

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Kupferberg Holocaust Center Opens in a new window

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