Meyer Schapiro

Chambers’ friend, Meyer Schapiro, a noted art historian, also testified before the grand jury regarding the rugs. When Chambers first talked to the FBI about the rugs, he did not mention Schapiro in connection with the rugs. He said he arranged their purchase himself. Weeks later, he said that Schapiro arranged the purchase. Here is an excerpt from Schapiro’s grand jury testimony on February 9, 1949:

Q. Now, I believe the FBI exhibited to you various other forms of the Massachusetts Importing Company, and I have photostat copies of these order forms, and I would like to ask you, do you recognize that as the handwriting of your wife?

A. Yes, this is the handwriting of my wife.

Q. And is it your information that your wife recalled signing for these rugs?

A. She hadn’t recalled. She was very surprised when I told her there was such a record. It completely escaped her mind. She couldn’t recall the rugs having been in the hall, waiting to be picked up.

Q. Now, is there any doubt in your mind that these rugs were delivered to your house and subsequently forwarded?

A. No. I think this is to me convincing evidence that they were delivered.

Schapiro repeated his testimony at both trials. Who signed for the rugs? Compare the signatures on the rug receipt and check.

When Chambers first mentioned the rugs on December 8, he said that three were purchased, not four. According to Chambers, the rugs were worth $200 apiece. In that context, the $600 check sounds appropriate. The rug receipt, however, lists four rugs. Here is how Schapiro accounted for the payment in his grand jury testimony..

Q. I would like to have identified for the record a check of the Corn Exchange Bank Trust Company, University Branch, dated December 23, 1936, for $600, signed “Meyer Schapiro.”


I would also like to have identified for the record a photostat copy of an order number 227-39 of the Massachusetts Importing Company, dated December 23, 1936, for four Bokara rugs, total amount $876.41, with the instruction “Ship to E. Shoen, 15 East 53rd Street,” and bearing the notation: “Check for $600, cash for $276.71,” also having a notation: “Check drawn by Dr. Meyer Schapiro, cash given by him also.”


Q. Now, Dr. Schapiro, did you give them cash also?

A. I would never have remembered it if Mr. Bracken hadn’t reminded me. I must have.

Schapiro’s memory about the method of payment is unclear, as it was with the receipt. Months later, at the second trial, Schapiro’s memory was clear, except for the amount of the check.

From the trial record, p. 725:

Q. What money did you use?

A. A check of $600 and an additional sum of about $200 to $250, I forget the amount.

Regarding the signature on the receipt:

Q. Would you recognize the signature of your wife on a delivery receipt?

A.. I would, yes.

Q. I show you a delivery receipt and ask you whether that is Mrs. Schapiro’s signature?

A.. Yes, that is.