[m]y brother, Eliyahou..., and I asked our brother Gabriel Aryeh to purchase various real properties for us in Iran during the 1970's. We paid all the funds for the purchase of the properties... with the understanding that Gabriel Aryeh would take title in his own name for our benefit and would transfer or sell such properties on our behalf as requested by us.... Our agreement with Gabriel was that he would receive five percent (5%) of the proceeds of any sale as his compensation for acting on our account in purchasing, holding and selling the properties.
Eliyahou Aryeh's affidavit is almost identical.
After I had settled down to working in Tehran upon my return there, I was in continual communication with my family in the United States. I made trips to New York to visit them every two or three years. As Tehran was developing and growing in the 1960's and 1970's, I saw that there were substantial opportunities to invest in lands to the west of Tehran near Karaj....
In discussing this with my brothers in New York, they asked me to act as their agent in purchasing good properties for investment purposes. The various brothers signed documents making me their agent or attorney-in-fact to purchase properties for them....
In the case of my brother, Moussa, I was able to place the properties directly in his name using his Iranian Identity Card number but for the others it was agreed that, as a matter of convenience, I would buy the properties in my own name for their account. In addition to Ouziel and Eliyahou, I was acting for my brothers Nouriel, Ouriel, Emanuel and Samuel in purchasing lands in Iran.
These brothers supplied the money for these purchases by sending me checks, sometimes cash, and in some instances gave me carpets, jewels or other property for the value of what I was purchasing for them.... It was our intention that I sell the properties and remit the profits to them. In effect, I was the family purchasing and selling agent in Iran (emphasis added). At the Hearing, Gabriel Aryeh reiterated that he had purchased property in his name for the account of the Claimants.
[Gabriel Aryeh and Nava Yedidsion] have the authority, power and right to make investments in property, both real, personal and mixed, in [the Claimant's names] and in their own name, or in one of their names, whichever they deem advisable, within their business discretion in the country of Iran.
Gabriel Aryeh and Nava Yedidsion have the power, without notice to [the Claimants], to sell any acquired property or properties and to reinvest said proceeds, subject only to an accounting when demanded by the undersigned, from time to time.4
I am happy to inform you the properties that I purchased have already increased in value even beyond my expectations, there's no question that we made a very prudent investment. I also accept your plan that the one hundred thousand dollar assignment will be as a 10% deposit for the current and future purchases--towards my account. The following are the deed Nos. I have purchased for you. Deed Nos. 367/1904 & 52/362.
My brother, Gabriel, advised you at the time you prepared the deeds that he was only acting on behalf of his American brothers. Consequently, please find enclosed a photocopy of the deeds and a correspondence in my brother's handwriting affirming to the fact that the purchase was intended for us. Therefore, we would be very appreciative if you would transfer the deeds to our names accordingly.
At the Hearing, the Claimants and Gabriel Aryeh were questioned about the origin and object of this letter. They explained that it had been written because of a family dispute arising from the Claimants' wives' concern that their husbands' properties were registered in Gabriel Aryeh's name, due partly to the fact that the Claimants' wives allegedly had contributed to the payments for the properties. The Claimants had allegedly written the letter in the heat of the dispute, intending to have the properties transferred into their names. Under questioning, however, Gabriel Aryeh acknowledged that he was aware at the time that a handwritten letter of this nature, written in English, could not have effected a transfer at the Ministry of Justice; he testified that he had acceded to the Claimants' wishes in the hope that the dispute would blow over. The three brothers contended that the dispute was resolved through intervention by a senior member of the family and that Gabriel then continued to purchase property for the Claimants in his name.
Though it was not stated in the will, I know my father's reason for this special bequest was that these two sons had become rabbis and had devoted their lives to serving the educational and spiritual interests of the Jewish community rather than to commercial work for gain.
This explanation is supported by two letters dated 19 August 1975 written by a Rabbi Benjamin Kaminetzky, who appears to have been the Aryeh family's Rabbi, in which he reiterates this explanation for the benefit of the Aryeh family.
... All conditions and provisions of this will will take force only in the event I survive my dear wife. If, however, my demise precedes that of my wife's, all assets, holdings, and properties will be taken over by her. Any decision taken by her, whether or not in agreement with the above will have full validity and will supersede all the above mentioned conditions and provisions.
[t]aking into consideration the fact that [Yahya Aryeh] did not cut off any of his heirs from his estate and wealth and that in accordance with his own wishes he divided the remainder of his estate among his heirs and children, now therefore in accordance with the mandate of [several Jewish legal authorities] carrying out all of the articles of this will is without objection and valid under the rules of Jewish law.
Insofar as New York is concerned I would presume that he was considered to have died intestate. At the same time we believe that the New York law is not the prevailing law to be considered by this Tribunal, that this Tribunal must consider that the Will has been presented here and that the Claimants are claiming under it in this proceeding.