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Fri Feb 15, 2013, 05:32 PM

Louvre museum returns Nazi-looted artwork (BBC)

Seven paintings taken from their Jewish owners in the 1930s are being returned to their surviving relatives as part of an ongoing French effort to give back looted, stolen or appropriated art.

The works include four paintings that currently hang in the Louvre in Paris.

Six of the pieces were owned by Richard Neumann, an Austrian Jew who sold off his collection at a fraction of its value in order to leave France.

The seventh was stolen in Prague from Josef Wiener, a Jewish banker.

All seven were destined for display in an art gallery that Adolf Hitler wanted to build in Linz, the Austrian city in which he grew up.
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more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-21471246

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Reply Louvre museum returns Nazi-looted artwork (BBC) (Original post)
eppur_se_muova Feb 2013 OP
libodem Feb 2013 #1
Isoldeblue Feb 2013 #2
ismnotwasm Feb 2013 #3
CTyankee Feb 2013 #4
frazzled Feb 2013 #6
CTyankee Feb 2013 #8
frazzled Feb 2013 #9
CTyankee Feb 2013 #10
frazzled Feb 2013 #11
CTyankee Feb 2013 #12
frazzled Feb 2013 #14
CTyankee Feb 2013 #15
frazzled Feb 2013 #5
DearHeart Feb 2013 #7
CTyankee Feb 2013 #13
DearHeart Feb 2013 #17
CTyankee Feb 2013 #18
DearHeart Feb 2013 #19
MoonRiver Feb 2013 #16

Response to eppur_se_muova (Original post)

Fri Feb 15, 2013, 05:34 PM

1. Finally

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Response to eppur_se_muova (Original post)

Fri Feb 15, 2013, 05:38 PM

2. It's about time!! Damn!!

I remember reading about this many years ago, about survivors and their families trying to have returned what was rightfully theirs. Some things were family heirlooms that can never be replaced. It was wrong to take this long to finally give it back. It just was adding insult to injury, by not doing so. Shameful!!

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Response to eppur_se_muova (Original post)

Fri Feb 15, 2013, 05:41 PM

3. K&R

With great enthusiasm.

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Response to eppur_se_muova (Original post)

Fri Feb 15, 2013, 05:54 PM

4. Reminds me of what happened to Klimt's portrait of Adele Bloch Bauer.

Her family was forced to "donate" that painting to the Germans when they occupied Austria just prior to WW2. It went into the Belvedere Museum in Vienna. It was only until 2005 that it was finally released to a family member, who was very elderly and sold it. It sold for millions and Ron Lauder bought it and gave it to the Neue Gallerie in NYC, where it hangs today.

The Belvedere had the freakin' nerve to claim that the painting was Austria's "patrimony."

Thank god justice was done then and in this case!

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Response to CTyankee (Reply #4)

Fri Feb 15, 2013, 06:18 PM

6. Some do not feel justice was achieved in that case

Michael Kimmelman, in the Times, in particular, argued that the rest of the collection, which was sold to unnamed private collectors for untold sums, betrayed both Adele's public spiritedness and the long battle to achieve restitution. They should have been donated, or at the least sold, to public institutions.

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/19/arts/design/19kimm.html?_r=0

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Response to frazzled (Reply #6)

Fri Feb 15, 2013, 07:18 PM

8. I'm sorry, but the Viennese have no room to complain about this. They were complicit with

the Nazis and only too happy to do it. Shameful!

If Adele had "public spiritedness" it was only because it happened before the Germans and the Austrians who later became allies with them! She must have felt that all that anti-semitism was a thing of the past. She died way before that and could not have known what would happen.

Read "The Lady in Gold", a recent book about the Adele painting. It is a pretty devastating indictment about the Austrians. Adele and her family knew a very different Vienna than what happened moving into the Anschluss. The Viennese society of the early 1900s was becoming more and more accepting of the Jewish families engaged in business. There was an outburst of creativity and great art at that time. The Nazis set that all back. The killing of those families as chronicled in that book was damning.

The court found that that painting belonged to the Bloch Bauer family. They could do what they damned well pleased with it. There was no obligation to give it to a museums or museums, esp. not the Belvedere. As it turns out, Adele IS in the Neue Gallerie, so what is your complaint?



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Response to CTyankee (Reply #8)

Fri Feb 15, 2013, 07:30 PM

9. I wasn't talking about the Viennese complaining ...

It's just that the art market is about as devious now as it was then. To heck with the Viennese (and the French).

It's a complaint about the heirs selling to private, anonymous owners rather than public institutions. Of course, if their only interest in the paintings was to make hundreds of millions, that was their right. But one can't say it was a very civic-minded one. Christie's made a bundle by directing this whole thing.

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Response to frazzled (Reply #9)

Fri Feb 15, 2013, 07:45 PM

10. The dear old lady who inherited that painting probably knew that Lauder would donate it.

That is implied in the recent book. The lady died soon after the sale. So what? It had belonged to the family and was rightfully theirs to do with as they pleased. Lauder himself is Jewish. Perhaps she knew he would donate it. What is wrong with her family (the family of her aunt Adele) getting the rightful money for it? I'm not getting the argument here.

Really, how "civic minded" can Jews who barely survived the Holocaust from the tender mercies of the Viennese be, in your estimation? I am wondering. That painting hung in the Belvedere all those years, not one yelp from anyone until Adele's family member, an old lady, found a lawyer who was willing to take on the government of Austria to get her rightful property back. Now people are bitching that she shouldn't have been able to get anything for it? Even if the outcome became a showcase for the thousands of people who see it each year in New York City?

Tell me when you are coming to NYC and I will happily tell you how to get there and the pittance it will cost you to see it. The museum is also a wonder. It has a gorgeous art nouveau staircase that is thrilling.

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Response to CTyankee (Reply #10)

Fri Feb 15, 2013, 08:08 PM

11. That was only one of the five paintings recovered. The rest went to private owners.

Ron Lauder is a billionnaire, one of the wealthiest men in the world (according to Forbes) and can pay whatever price he wants. And the Neue Galerie is more or less his personal domain. (Disclosure: I have worked on publications for the Neue Galerie, so I know it quite well. I don't need directions on how to get there. Further disclosure: I am a Jew. Third disclosure: a friend's father was the head of the military unit that recovered much of the Nazi looted art.) Museums, even the Met, cannot compete in that kind of private market, and were basically locked out of any kind of access to purchasing the rest of the paintings.

I think you have misunderstood my intentions, and my references. Nowhere in my statements did I ever say the family should not sell them. Nowhere did I say they should have donated or sold them in Vienna.

What I might point out is how Christie's was at the center of these mega-million dollar deals. They profited handsomely. There are also issues regarding Mr. Lauder (Ronald, not Leonard), including questions about his political interventions and his tax schemes.

It's not all about pretty pictures.

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Response to frazzled (Reply #11)

Sat Feb 16, 2013, 02:18 AM

12. You knew a "Monument Man"? Wow! That must have been fabulous!

It must have led to some great conversations about that history...I found out about a Monument Man here in New Haven only after he had died. He was Sumner Crosby, who had taught at Yale and I knew as a local supporter of progressive causes. Great guy.

I know the art world is just agog with money. It's an old lament and I get it but the story on this painting is one of a great deal of pain. I'm glad I read about the saga in "The Lady in Gold" but I have to tell you, I went away from that book with more of a sense of outrage at the Austrians than anything else!

I'm not a big fan of Christie's. But it is what it is and exists in a time of an art bubble. And what you say about Lauder could indeed be true, not saying it isn't. All I could think about when I finished that book (which is very recent and I recommend it) was pure rage at Austria for piously claiming "patrimony" for a museum that profited nicely from exploiting Jews who were trying to save their lives and their family's lives and had to "donate" these and other items of value to the filthy Nazi loving Austrians. I am not Jewish but my granddaughters are so that gives me a decided stance on things like this.

Money does some good and lots of bad, lots of the time. I hate it when my republican friends who are art lovers talk about how the Medicis are practically single handedly responsible for the Early Renaissance. It burns me up, believe me, because I have done research and know about the role of labor in 15th century Florence.

Thanks for your insights! You must tell me more about what you learned from that Monument Man! Great stuff...

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Response to CTyankee (Reply #12)

Sat Feb 16, 2013, 10:59 AM

14. Naw, I just know his daughter

He was a prominent figure in the museum world after the war, and died quite young in the 1960s. Since she has never talked about him much (she has her own distinguished arts career), what I know comes from the same sorts of sources, including the documentary PBS did on The Monuments Men.

Waking up this morning and thinking about this discussion, I feel I should clarify my personal position. I was always absolutely in favor of the restitution of the work, as I am in all cases. What bothered me was that, after all the years of fighting to reclaim the family's due heritage, they turned around and just sold them all for bundles of cash. I certainly don't begrudge them for having sold to Lauder, and at least the work would have visibility that way; but to have turned the remaining four to anonymous private collectors seemed to me to be very sad and disrespectful, not just of the art but of the family's history. It seems pecuniary to the highest degree. I guess I just value art more than money, and I believe that people who own art have some responsibility for what happens to it in its future. It's as if they didn't care a whit about these paintings, or about the uncle and aunt who cherished them. The family may have gotten justice, but the majority of the works did not.

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Response to frazzled (Reply #14)

Sat Feb 16, 2013, 01:00 PM

15. I'd have to check that book again, but as I recall the inheritor, the old lady who died very

soon after the court case was won, didn't have much money and earned a living dressmaking. While I see the merit in what you are saying, I can also see how her reduced circumstances and great age might cause her to want to leave her heirs some degree of security. I don't know what I would have done if it were me. For me personally, I would give the art to a public museum, certainly. But if my kids or grandkids were in need, they would have to come first.

Have you seen Adele there at the Neue Gallerie? I only saw it last summer when an article in the Art Section of the NYT drew attention to it.

On the issue of "patrimony," I'd like to clarify that I am a strong supporter of art and artifacts belonging to the country where they were created. We had this big controversy here in New Haven with Peabody Museum's "ownership" of the Macchu Picchu relics that Hiram Bingham stole. I cannot tell you the number of arguments I got into with my friends in the Yale community over that one! I wonder if Hiram and Sumner ever got into it, before Hiram pretty much lost his mind. I was pleased and delighted when the Yale Trustees did the right thing, altho I think lots of it was just trying to keep from looking like modern day imperialists with their peers in the Ivy League...

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Response to eppur_se_muova (Original post)

Fri Feb 15, 2013, 06:10 PM

5. Hey, it only took 75 years

for them to figure that out. Sheesh.

For a better understanding of how these kinds of "appropriations" were made, and for one of the really most fascinating reads in recent years, buy a copy (now in paper) of Hare with the Amber Eyes. It's written, very beautifully, by a British ceramic artist whose family was among the wealthiest in Europe (the equivalent of the Rothschilds). All that is left is a set of Japanese netsuke figures, which his (gay) great uncle left to him. With these small little objects in hand as his only connection to his ancestors, the author sets off to discover his famous family's past in Paris and Vienna.

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Response to frazzled (Reply #5)

Fri Feb 15, 2013, 07:01 PM

7. Wow! That sounds like a fascinating read!

Thanks for recommending this book...I love history, particularly WWII years.

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Response to DearHeart (Reply #7)

Sat Feb 16, 2013, 02:29 AM

13. The Rape of Europa by Lynn Nichols is both a book and a subsequent PBS documentary

that you can get on DVD from the PBS Store. It is fabulous. There is another book called "The Monument Men" and one called "The Venus Fixers." Some great stories about this WW2 effort to save art from the Nazis who were absolutely bent on snatching the art of Europe for themselves.

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Response to CTyankee (Reply #13)

Sat Feb 16, 2013, 05:58 PM

17. Thank you so much for the info! It's so much easier for a trip to the library or bookstore

when you have titles! I had recently read a fiction title, "The Amber Room" by Steve Berry and it piqued my interest again in this matter.

The art should definitely be returned to the families, but I'd be willing to bet that most don't have "proof" of ownership, simply because of how they were made to sell in such a hurry. How can you prove provenance when everything you own, including your papers were lost or destroyed?

I now have to dig into this subject more; how many families are waiting, I wonder and how many pieces of art are hanging in "personal" art collections, never to be seen by these families, or the general public for that matter.

Now you've done it...you've ignited a new obsession for me!

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Response to DearHeart (Reply #17)

Sat Feb 16, 2013, 07:52 PM

18. well, either thank you or I'm sorry...it's a burden but a gift at the same time. I feel it, too...

I should correct my earlier post. It isn't "The Monument Men," it is "Rescuing Da Vinci."

Sorry about the misleading title. My bad...

Don't even get me started on how art should be returned to people who owned it! It's a losing proposition when you go to the Louvre, for instance...sheesh, most of that stuff was stolen by Napoleon...ACK...

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Response to CTyankee (Reply #18)

Sun Feb 17, 2013, 01:17 AM

19. It's definitely Thank You!

I wish to someday make it to other art museums like the Louvre, but for now, I'm stuck with the Art Institute in Chicago, unfortunately, I don't even get there that often anymore. I've been mostly into Impressionism, but am slowly branching out. A friend of mine says that "anyone can do that type of painting", she's into Rembrandt and Sargent, etc. I appreciate them, but they're not my favorites.

I don't like the thought of museums having stolen pieces on display, but I also don't like art to be in private collections either. I want the "masses" to be able to see the art, but that's just my opinion. Been interested in art for quite a while, but never knew much about art history, and really nothing about the vast amount of stolen art over the years.

Have a nice Sunday!

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Response to eppur_se_muova (Original post)

Sat Feb 16, 2013, 01:02 PM

16. Bout time!

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