Photo Credit: Courtesy Dr Oetker
Springtime in the Mountains by Hans Thoma

Dr Oetker, a family owned German manufacturer of baking products, muesli and frozen pizza, says it will return a painting by Hans Thoma, Springtime in the Mountains, one of four panels by Thoma depicting the that used top belong to Jewish art collector Hedwig Ullmann, who was forced to sell it before leaving Germany in 1938.

Last October, Dr. Oetker announced it had discovered four works in the company art collection that have been stolen from Jews by the Nazis. The company added that it had contacted Ullmann’s heirs to discuss a settlement.


According to German media, the heirs did not know their painting’s whereabouts before Dr Oetker contacted them, saying they were going to return it “for moral reasons.” According to an official statement, the Dr. Oetker collection includes several hundred paintings, silver and porcelain, mostly acquired in the 1950s by billionaire Rudolf-August Oetker, owner of the private food company Oetker-Gruppe, who died in 2007. Back in 2015, the company assigned a provenance researcher to investigate its art collection, following a study of Dr. Oetker’s history during the Third Reich.

“This is an outstanding example of a private company doing the right thing regarding Nazi-looted art and sets a standard of best practice in this field,” David Rowland, the New York-based lawyer representing the Ullmann heirs, told The Art Newspaper.

In its October 2016 statement, Dr Oetker said that “the goal is to check whether works in the collection were originally owned by people who were persecuted by the Nazis,” promising to settle with the heirs if any of the works is identified as Nazi loot.


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