The Shmooze

Looted Painting Returned to Jewish Heirs

By Michael Kaminer

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What happened in this German casino will not be staying in this German casino.

A gambling establishment in a German spa town will return a Dutch Old Master painting to the heirs of a Jewish art dealer persecuted by the Nazis and forced to flee Germany, Bloomberg reports.

“The Masters of the Goldsmith Guild in Amsterdam in 1701,” by Juriaen Pool II, was in Max Stern’s Dusseldorf art gallery until 1937. Stern, proprietor of the Dusseldorf Galerie Julius Stern, was forced to liquidate his gallery and auction the contents — more than 200 paintings, many of them Old Masters — in a sale managed by the Cologne auction house Lempertz in 1937, Bloomberg reports. Though the Pool painting was still in Stern’s possession in 1937, it wasn’t part of that sale.

The painting moved to a gallery in Wiesbaden and was bought by Spielbank Bad Neuenahr GmbH, a casino south of Bonn, after the Holocaust.

Stern eventually settled in Montreal, becoming one of Canada’s most important art dealers and collectors. He bequeathed the bulk of his estate to three major universities — Concordia and McGill in Montreal, and Jerusalem’s Hebrew University — according to a press release issued by Concordia today.

The Pool painting will get handed over in a ceremony tomorrow morning at The Amsterdam Museum. “The location of the ceremony is particularly significant as the Dutch museum has an extraordinary connection to the artist who lived in the 17th century building which was an orphanage and is now a newly-opened children’s museum,” the press release noted.

The Old Master “is the ninth Nazi-looted artwork to be returned to the university heirs,” the press release said.


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