The estate of a German-Jewish art dealer received on Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom HaShoah) a rare 17th century painting that was lost during the Nazi era.
The 1632 portrait by an unknown Dutch painter shows a musician holding bagpipes and was one of hundreds of pictures belonging to Max Stern that the Nazis forced him to sell.
The $60,000 oil painting, titled “Bagpipe Player” was found in the inventory of an American art dealer who purchased the work from a London gallery, unaware it had been stolen.
Stern sought asylum in Canada after fleeing the Nazis in the beginning of World War II but was forced in 1937 to get rid of his paintings at lower-than-market prices. A U.S. court defined the 228 pictures he sold as stolen property.
Although he searched for his stolen property for half a decade, Stern failed to recover his paintings before he died in 1987.
“We are committed to finding those stolen works of art and returning them to the university beneficiaries," said Special Agent Peter J. Smith of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Department, which returned the “Bagpipe” portrait to the estate.
Klimt Paintings Returned in April
Last week Mayor Franz Dobusch of the Austrian city of Linz urged that another masterpiece, painted by artist Gustav Klimt, be returned to the heirs of Aranka Munka, a Jewish woman killed in the Holocaust. The legal heir, who preferred to remain anonymous, was “joyful” in response to the decision, saying in a statement that it “shows Linz has become aware of its historical… responsibility.”
The 1911 work of art, a painting of Munk’s daughter Ria, is believed to be worth some $28 million. It will be transferred to the descendants of Munk if the Linz city council and the city’s museum agree to the decision, as expected, in June.
Vienna attorney Alfred Noll sought the return of the painting from the Linz Museum in an application submitted in 2007. The museum received the work from an art dealer after World War II.
Five other Klimt paintings were returned by court order in 2006 to the descendant of another family from whom the Nazis seized assets in 1938.