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November 27, 2014 / 5 Kislev, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘MUNICH’

Fight Over Long-Lost Holocaust Art Treasure Begins

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

A long-lost Monet and other art treasures stolen from Jews during the Holocaust have been discovered in the home of an 81-year-old German art collector, according to a report Wednesday on ORF Austrian state television.

The works by Claude Monet, Edouard Manet, Pablo Picasso and Auguste Rodin were discovered last November in Munich among the household items that belong to Cornelius Gurlitt.

One Monet painting alone was estimated to be worth some $14 million (10 million euros). Gurlitt had squirreled away the priceless paintings in his Munich apartment for decades among nearly 1,300 works of art, according to Der Spiegel. More were found by customs officials hidden away in Gurlitt’s house in Salzburg, all stolen during the Nazi era. Hildebrand Gurlitt, his father, was known to have curried favor with the Nazis, Der Spiegel reported.

New York City resident David Toren is waiting for the German government to hand over at least one of those paintings. The octogenarian was a member of one of the last Kindertransports in August 1939 to save Jewish children from the Nazis before the gates to hell crashed shut.

Born in 1925, Toren made it to Sweden; his older brother ended up in Holland and then went on to England one day before the war began. Both of their parents ended their lives in the Nazi gas chambers.

But Toren, 88, is an attorney and the son of an art dealer who was also an attorney — and he is demanding the return of a painting that belonged to his father. The work, an oil painting by German impressionist Max Liebermann, is “Two Riders on the Beach.” It depicts two men riding horses on a beach along the foamy waves.

Toren’s father was arrested by the Gestapo the morning after Kristallnacht, and then asked to come with a Nazi general to his wealthy uncle’s home to finalize “sale” of one of his assets. Later in the day, relates Toren, his father was taken to Buchenwald concentration camp, where he was imprisoned for three weeks — the first time.

A letter by a government official dated in December 1939 documents the attempt by the Nazis to seize the art collection. “Subject: The securing of Jewish-owned art.” Among the works described was Liebermann’s painting – the artist, a “Jewish painter.”

Der Spiegel traced a carbon copy of a letter dated August 1942 showing a Breslau museum director involved in the appraisal and sale of Jewish collections for the Gestapo. In the letter, the museum director offered Hildebrand Gurlitt two Liebermann paintings in exchange for cash, one of which was “Two Riders on the Beach.” The other, “Basket Weavers,” also ended up in Gurlitt’s hands but later was auctioned off in Berlin.

Gurlitt’s lawyers are now demanding that Toren pay $415,890 (300,000 euros) for the return of his father’s painting.

In response, Toren’s son Peter, an attorney,  helped his father file a 19-page complaint demanding the Federal Republic of Germany, and by proxy the Free State of Bavaria, return the painting to Toren and his brother, its rightful inheritors.

The complaint, “David Toren, Plaintiff, v. Federal Republic of Germany and Free State of Bavaria” was filed Wednesday in Washington D.C.

New Yorker Suing Munich Collector for Return of Nazi-Looted Art

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

A New York man has gone to court for the return of several Nazi-looted artworks from the controversial collection of Cornelius Gurlitt in Munich.

David Toren, 88, whose father and uncle were art collectors in the pre-war German city of Breslau, sued in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., earlier this month to demand the return of the 1901 paintings “Two Riders on the Beach” and “Basket Weavers” by the German-Jewish artist Max Liebermann.

Gurlitt’s father, Hildebrand, purchased the ”Riders” painting in 1942 while working for the Nazis, according to news reports. Hildebrand Gurlitt had told post-war American military authorities that it had been in his family since before the Nazis came to power.

Documents show the painting was among those confiscated by the Nazis from Toren’s great-uncle David Friedmann in Breslau — today Wroclaw, Poland — in 1939. Toren, an attorney, is Friedmann’s only surviving heir. The Nazis noted the Liebermann painting in the collection and in recent years it was listed in German’s Lostart database.

While the younger Gurlitt still possesses the “Riders” painting, he sold “Basket Weavers” at auction to an unnamed Israeli collector in 2000 for about $92,300, Haaretz reported.

Toren, a native of Germany, also is suing Germany and the state of Bavaria for having failed to inform his family of the find after they confiscated more than 1,400 works from Gurlitt in 2012 in the course of an investigation for tax evasion. He had inherited the art from his father, a dealer hired by the Nazis to buy art for its museums, as well as art that it considered ”degenerate” that could be sold for profit.

The “Riders” painting was among those works shown to the public at a news conference in Augsburg last fall, after Focus magazine revealed the find.

According to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper, Toren was 14 years old in August 1939 when his parents sent him to safety in Sweden. His entire family, except for one aunt and one brother, were murdered in the Holocaust. Toren immigrated to the United States in 1956 with $100 and a photograph of his parents, the report said.

A task force has been established to research the provenance of all works in Gurlitt’s collection, and Gurlitt’s attorney recently announced that he would cooperate with heirs making legitimate claims.

German Satirical Novel about Return of Hitler to Become Movie

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

A best-selling German satirical novel about the return of Adolf Hitler to modern-day Germany is being adapted into a film.

“Er Ist Wieder Da,” German for “He’s Back,” sold 1.3 million copies in Germany after its 2012 release. In the book, Hitler awakens in modern-day Berlin and garners enough attention to become host of his own comedy TV show.

The movie will be released by Munich-based Constantin Film, according to The Associated Press, and the book’s author, Timur Vermes, will write the screenplay. It is targeted for release in 2015.

An English translation of the book, “Look Who’s Back,” will be released in April.

ZOA: Iran Deal Is Munich, Obama Is Chamberlain

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

The Zionist Organization of America blasted the interim Iran deal in the strongest terms, describing the agreement concluded over the weekend in Geneva between  the P5+1 –– the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States) and Germany –– and the Islamic Republic of Iran as an appeasement deal.

“This is our era’s new Munich and President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry are the new Neville Chamberlains,” the ZOA stated.

Other prominent Jewish groups — including AIPAC and the Anti-Defamation League — have also expressed strong reservations about the deal, but perhaps none in language quite so barbed as the ZOA.

The ZOA’s statement may actually be the closest in tone to the response of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who refrained from name-calling, but called the agreement a “historic mistake” that “made the world a much more dangerous place.”

Nazi-Looted Art Discovered In Munich to Go Online

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013

German authorities have bowed to international pressure and are publishing a partial list of artworks found in a Munich apartment. The spectacular art find – including works by Chagall, Picasso, Matisse and Beckmann – was publicized by the Munich-based Focus magazine earlier this month.

Officials are assembling a “task force” of experts to speed up provenance research. Heading the team will be German attorney Ingeborg Berggreen-Merkel, former Assistant Secretary to the Federal Commissioner for Culture and Media.

Customs investigators last year seized the paintings, sketches and sculptures, dating from the 16th century to the modern period but stayed silent until now because they had chanced upon the art during a tax evasion probe, which compels secrecy.

The secrecy and the failure so far to publish a complete list of the works has attracted criticism from those who argue that publicizing such finds is crucial to establishing their ownership and returning them to their rightful owners.

Out of a total of more than 1,400 works, an initial list of 25 with photos went online Monday and the website was promptly overwhelmed with hits. The list may help those who are trying to reunite long-lost art with their rightful heirs.

Cache of Nazi-looted Art Found in Munich

Monday, November 4th, 2013

Authorities in Munich revealed that a cache of works, many by artists the Nazis considered “degenerate,” was found in a moldy storeroom in the German city.

The hundreds of works were hoarded by an elderly man who sold some of them to cover everyday expenses.

Included among the 1,500 works, which reportedly are worth billions, are prints, etchings, engravings and paintings by such artists as Pablo Picasso, Max Beckmann, Marc Chagall, Emil Nolde, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Oskar Kokoschka, Paul Klee and Henri Matisse.

The works probably were confiscated by the Nazis as “degenerate” or stolen from Jewish owners, according to the Munich-based Focus magazine, which broke the story of the art cache.

“Now we need to quickly find out whether there are legitimate owners or heirs,” Dieter Graumann, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, told the Bild Zeitung newspaper. “Belated justice is better than none.”

Focus also reported that official searches had been underway for at least 200 of the works. An art historian is now tracing provenance and estimating values.

Reportedly, an art dealer identified as “Hildebrand G.” snapped up the works in the 1930s and 1940s. For 50 years his son, whose identity has been publicized as Cornelius Gurlitt, apparently hoarded the works in a dark storeroom in his Munich home on homemade shelves. They were found by customs officials investigating Gurlitt for tax evasion alongside rotting food and trash.

According to Focus, the customs investigators made the sensational discovery in the spring of 2011. The authorities kept mum while searching for more information.

The works are now safely stored in a customs warehouse. Focus reported that Gurlitt had sold some of the paintings over the years, even managing to auction off a Beckmann painting for more than $1 million after the customs raid. Investigators found empty frames and paperwork indicating sales that took place over the years.

Olympic Committee Refuses to Commemorate Israeli Munich Massacre Victims

Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

A campaign by the widows of two Israeli victims of the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre have had their petition for a memorial at the 2012 Olympic games rejected by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Ankie Spitzer, widow of murdered Israeli wrestler Andre Spitzer, and Ilana Romano, widow of murdered weightlifter Joseph Romano, issued an appeal for a minute of silence at this year’s games, in memory of the violence which marred the Games 40 years ago.

Spitzer told Reuters that the IOC refusal is due to concern that Arab countries would publicly protest the memorial to the murder victims by walking out.  “They say we bring politics into the Olympics, which is not true, because I didn’t ask them to say that there were 11 Israelis,” Spitzer said.  “They tell us that the Arab delegations will get up and leave, to which I said: ‘It’s okay, if they don’t understand what the Olympics are all about, let them leave.’”

On September 5, 1972, Palestinian Black September terrorists stormed the Olympic Village in Munich, and killed 11 Israeli weightlifters, wrestlers, and coaches – two during the surprise attack on the Israeli dormitory, and 9 more in a failed hostage rescue attempt.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/global/olympic-committee-refuses-to-commemorate-israeli-munich-massacre-victims/2012/04/22/

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