January 27, 2007

More on Courtauld Institute Nazi loot restitution

Posted at 12:52 pm in Similar cases

Further details of the return of three paintings from the Courtauld Institute. The paintings belonged originally to the same Dr Feldmann who’s heirs previously brought a case against the British Museum with only partial success.

Washington Post

London Gallery to Return Looted Art
The Associated Press
Thursday, January 25, 2007; 12:47 PM

LONDON — A London gallery has agreed to return three Old Master drawings that were looted by the Nazis during World War II to the family of their Czech owner.

Britain’s culture ministry said Wednesday it had accepted a recommendation from the government’s Spoliation Advisory Panel that the works be returned to the family of Arthur Feldmann, a Czech doctor whose property was stolen when the Nazis invaded Czechoslovakia in 1939. He was tortured and killed by the Nazis; his wife, Gisela, died at Auschwitz.

British authorities said there was firm evidence the 17th-century drawings _ attributed to Carl Ruthart, Frans van Mieris the Elder and Guiseppe Bibiena _ were seized from Feldmann’s home by the Gestapo. They surfaced in London after the war and were sold by Sotheby’s auction house in 1946.

They have been in the collection of London’s Courtauld Institute of Art since 1952. The ministry said the institute had agreed to return two of the works. It said Feldmann’s family had agreed to let the gallery keep the van Mieris drawing as a gift.

In April, the British government agreed to compensate Feldmann’s heirs $345,000 for other looted works that ended up in the British Museum.

The deal allowed the works to remain in the institution, which was created by an act of Parliament that bars it from disposing of items in its collection.

The Spoliation Advisory Panel was set up in 2000 to resolve claims arising from looted Nazi-era property held in collections in Britain.

CBC News (Canada)

Two tales of Nazi-looted artwork
U.K. returns drawings, Germany keeps prints
Last Updated: Thursday, January 25, 2007 | 4:52 PM ET
CBC Arts

In Germany, a panel has ruled against returning a Nazi-looted collection of rare prints to the son of its original owner, while a U.K. gallery has agreed to return Nazi-looted Old Master drawings to the heirs of the original owner.

On Thursday, the eight-member German Limbach Commission, which mediates disputes involving Nazi-looted artworks, ruled against returning approximately 4,300 rare posters and prints to 69-year-old Peter Sachs, son of the collection’s original owner, Hans.

Sachs, who lives in Florida, was just a year old in 1938 when the Nazis seized his father’s collection of about 12,500 rare posters of, which included political propaganda as well as elaborate ads for exhibits, cabarets and consumer products.

He has been trying to regain what remains of the collection, estimated to be worth between $10 million US and $50 million US and currently held by Berlin’s German Historical Museum.

The museum inherited the collection from an East German counterpart in 1990, after the fall of the Berlin Wall. It has maintained that Sachs’ father received compensation of about $50,000 US for the collection from the West German government in 1961.

In its ruling Thursday, the panel cited a 1966 letter in which Hans Sachs told a friend he viewed the 1961 payment as appropriate.

However, Sachs has said when the compensation was paid, both sides believed the collection had been destroyed. When his father discovered part of it had in fact survived, he began trying to reclaim it, Sachs said. Hans Sachs died in 1974.

“I am inexpressibly saddened by the recommendation today,” Sachs said in an interview.

His attorney said it was unclear what legal action Sachs might now take.
Brits to return Old Master drawings

The German panel’s decision came just a day after the British culture ministry and a London gallery agreed to return two Nazi-looted Old Master drawings to the heirs of the original Czech owner.

On Wednesday, the culture ministry and London’s Courtauld Institute of Art announced they had accepted a government panel’s recommendation to return 17th-century drawings to the family of Arthur Feldmann, a Czech doctor who was tortured and killed by the Nazis.

Feldmann’s collection — which includes three drawings attributed to Carl Ruthart, Frans van Mieris the Elder and Giuseppe Bibiena — eventually surfaced in London and were auctioned off by Sotheby’s in 1946.

The London gallery has held the drawings since 1952 and said it is returning two of the works. The Feldmann family has agreed to allow it to keep the van Mieris drawing as a gift, officials said.

Last year, the British government agreed to compensate Feldmann’s heirs for other Nazi-looted works that are now held by the British Museum.
With files from the Associated Press.

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