The Arty Semite

Tennessee Sculptor Makes Bid for Anne Frank Tree

By Jon Kalish

  • Print
  • Share Share

Getty Images

The remains of the tree that Anne Frank saw in her neighbor’s yard while she was in hiding from the Nazis is in legal limbo while the foundation organized to preserve it battles the contractor they hired to do so. Ever since it fell last August, Jewish museums in Berlin, New York and Amsterdam have been said to be interested in obtaining remnants of the 150 year old chestnut tree. But a local contractor named Rob van der Leij is owed close to $50,000 and won’t release the remains of the tree until the legal mess is resolved.

Now a world class sculptor named Brad Sells of Cookeville, Tenn., has made a bid for a portion of the famed tree, which was 70 feet tall and was suffering from a fungal infection when it came down. Sells wants to make a sculpture and donate it to a Holocaust museum.

“It’s a pretty stable wood. I think I could make a beautiful piece of art out of it,” Sells told The Arty Semite in a phone interview.

Sells said his initial inquiry to the Dutch foundation dedicated to preserving the tree has gotten a positive response. The remains of the tree, which weighed 30 tons, are being held in five containers and Sells is asking for a tenth of that.

“I would like to have access to some of the trunk. But I’m particularly interested in the limbs because that’s what Anne Frank saw,” said Sells, who has already been in contact with the Museum of Tolerance in California about the project.

The Tennessee sculptor has already raised some money to start work on a television documentary on the project. One idea is to have sculptors in Tel Aviv and Berlin work on sculptures made from the tree. Sells has been featured in two PBS docs titled “Tree Safari,” which focus on human beings and their relationships with wood and trees. The first was set in South Africa and the second took place in Hawaii. Both were shot by independent producer Todd Jarrell.

Sells’s work is in the Smithsonian Institution’s Renwick Gallery, the Museum of Art and Design in New York and the Minneapolis Institute of Art.

“I feel this project needs to happen, Sells told The Arty Semite. “That tree became such a symbol. I feel almost a responsibility to make something significant happen with this wood.”


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Todd Jarrell, Tree Safari, Rob van der Leij, Sculpture, Jon Kalish, Brad Sells, Anne Frank Tree, Anne Frank

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • Russia's playing the "Jew card"...again.
  • "Israel should deal with this discrimination against Americans on its own merits... not simply as a bargaining chip for easy entry to the U.S." Do you agree?
  • For Moroccan Jews, the end of Passover means Mimouna. Terbhou ou Tse'dou! (good luck) How do you celebrate?
  • Calling all Marx Brothers fans!
  • What's it like to run the Palestine International Marathon as a Jew?
  • Does Israel have a racism problem?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.