New York Post
Queens shrink accused of stealing valuable family heirloom from former patient
By Melissa Klein
July 27, 2019
A Queens psychiatrist with boundary issues has refused for three decades to return a famed photograph, according to its owner who says she gave it to the doc only temporarily for safe keeping.
Ruby Claudia York said she was going through a rough time in 1985 and, after a suicide attempt, landed in Metropolitan Hospital where Dr. John Halkias treated her.
After she was discharged, York said she was about to rent a room in a new apartment and was afraid to take with her a valuable photograph by her father-in-law, Arthur Rothstein.
The image is of a dad and sons battling a dust storm in 1936. Rothstein chronicled dust bowl conditions in the Great Plains and the photograph had become an enduring image of the time. Another print sold for nearly $24,000 in 2011.
He had given the signed print to his son — York’s husband — Rob Stoner, a musician who played bass with Bob Dylan. Stoner was touring with his own band in 1985 and York wanted to protect the heirloom, she said.
“I thought you can trust a doctor,” she said.
York, 68, who now lives in North Carolina, said she has called Halkias over the years asking for the photo back, but he has refused.
Halkias told The Post that York indeed gave him the photo, but he remembers it as a thank you gift.
He said he would like to return it — but it has turned to dust.
“Thirty-something years, things get lost,” he said. “I can’t give something back if I can’t find it. I wish I could find it. I don’t need this.”
Halkias got into hot water in 2016 when a state oversight board, in a highly unusual move, forbid him from treating women, alleging he “violated professional boundaries” with a patient, according to state records.