Ger­many ‘re­fuses to help re­cover £3.5m Nazi-looted paint­ing’

The Sunday Telegraph - - World News - By Justin Hug­gler in Ber­lin not about

WHEN Ger­many hosts a ma­jor con­fer­ence on Nazi-looted art in Ber­lin this week, one per­son who will not be at­tend­ing is Mar­i­anne Rosen­berg.

Ms Rosen­berg says the Ger­man govern­ment has re­fused to help her fam­ily re­cover a paint­ing by Edgar De­gas that was stolen from her grand­fa­ther by the Nazis – de­spite a Ham­burg dealer claim­ing to know where it is.

“I’m dis­ap­pointed, to be hon­est,” Ms Rosen­berg says. “I was hope­ful the Ger­man govern­ment would want to deal with this in an ex­em­plary way. But they’ve done noth­ing.”

Ms Rosen­berg is pur­su­ing the case with her sis­ter, El­iz­a­beth Rosen­bergClark, and her cousin Anne Sin­clair – theex-wife­ofDo­miniqueS­trauss-Kahn, the dis­graced for­mer head of the In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund.

De­gas’s Por­trait of Gabrielle Diot, be­lieved to be worth up to £3.5mil­lion to­day, was the prop­erty of Ms Rosen­berg’s grand­fa­ther, Paul, a renowned Paris art dealer. But when Ger­many oc­cu­pied Paris in 1940, the Jewish Rosen­berg was forced to flee and his col­lec­tion was seized by the Nazis.

The Im­pres­sion­ist por­trait has been miss­ing since then, but in 1987 Ms Rosen­berg’s mother found it listed in the cat­a­logue of Mathias Hans, a Ham­burg art dealer.

In 1974, Mr Hans had bro­kered the pur­chase by an un­named Swiss col­lec­tor who was now try­ing to sell it. Mr Hans told them he was un­aware the paint­ing was looted, but said he could not di­vulge the iden­tity of the col­lec­tor be­cause it would be a breach of con­fi­den­tial­ity. In 2016 the fam­ily en- gaged the ser­vices of Art Re­cov­ery In­ter­na­tional, a Lon­don-based com­pany of art de­tec­tives.

By then, Ger­many had been rocked by the dis­cov­ery of sev­eral Nazi-looted art­works among a col­lec­tion hoarded by Cor­nelius Gurlitt, a Mu­nich recluse and son of a Nazi art dealer. The Rosen­bergs had suc­cess­fully re­cov­ered a Matisse from Gurlitt’s col­lec­tion. “The Gurlitt af­fair did not put Ger­many in a good light,” Ms Rosen­berg says. “We got the Matisse back even­tu­ally but they made it so dif­fi­cult for us.” Christo­pher Mar­i­anello of Art Re­cov­ery In­ter­na­tional met with Ger­man govern­ment of­fi­cials, but was told there was lit­tle they could do.

Mr Hans has of­fered to me­di­ate, but the cur­rent owner has asked for €3mil­lion (£2.6mil­lion) com­pen­sa­tion.

“If the cur­rent holder of the paint­ing didn’t know it was looted art, then he should look for com­pen­sa­tion from the per­son who sold him the paint­ing,” says Ms Rosen­berg.

“For my clients, this is money,” Mr Mar­i­anello told The Sun­day Tele­graph. “This is about a piece of their fam­ily his­tory that was forcibly taken from them by the Nazis.” Mr Hans said: “I nei­ther knew nor sus­pected that it was stolen art. After the Gurlitt case I had to prom­ise my client I would pro­tect his iden­tity.” This week Monika Grüt­ters, the Ger­man cul­ture min­is­ter, will ad­dress a con­fer­ence in Ber­lin on the Wash­ing­ton Prin­ci­ples, a 1998 in­ter­na­tional agree­ment on resti­tut­ing Nazi-looted art to its own­ers. But Mr Mar­i­anello says that Ger­many is fail­ing to live up to those prin­ci­ples.

“The min­istry tried to me­di­ate be­tween the par­ties, but they have not yet been able to reach an agree­ment,” the Ger­man cul­ture min­istry said in a state­ment.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.