Restitution verification procedure
Since the Washington Conference Principles on Nazi-Confiscated Art of 1998 the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen (Bavarian State Painting Collections) have restituted 12 works. These came from the collections of Curt Glaser, Eduard Behrens, Julius Kien, August Liebmann Mayer, Josef Block, Max Meirowsky, Ottmar Strauss and Elisabeth Glanville. The restitution of six works to the heirs of Julius Kien, August Liebmann Mayer and Eduard Behrens were the result of a proactive initiative by the Bavarian State Painting Collections.
Representing the Max Stern Estate, the Holocaust Claims Processing Office has submitted a claim for the painting Ulanen auf dem Marsch (Uhlans on the March) by Hans von Marées that was bought in 1989 at Karl und Faber in Munich. Max Stern (1904–1987) came from Mönchengladbach and was a highly successful art dealer in Düsseldorf. The Galerie Stern’s expansive premises were in the Königsallee and housed a total of ten exhibition rooms, a workshop and store rooms. The gallery held its extremely successful auctions and exhibitions at the Breidenbacher Hof and in the Parkhotel in Düsseldorf. The Reichskammer der bildenden Künste (Reich Chamber of Fine Arts) ordered the closure of the gallery in 1935. Stern managed to extend the deadline until 1937 but, in November that year, had to sell his holdings of artworks through the auctioneers Lempertz and emigrated to London.
The heirs of James von Bleichröder, through their lawyer, have submitted a claim for Auferweckung des Lazarus (Raising of Lazarus ) by a South German Master, a work that entered the Bavarian State Painting Collections in 1961 as part of the so-called ‘transfers of state-owned property’. James von Bleichröder (1859–1937), a Royal Prussian cavalry officer in the Landwehr and with a doctorate in law was the son of the banker Gerson Bleichröder. The painting in question was sold at auction in 1938, after his death, at the auctioneers Lepke where it was bought by Böhler art dealers in Munich and sold shortly afterwards to Hermann Göring. Up until 1945 it was in the collection of Hermann Göring and was transferred to the Bavarian State Painting Collections by the fiduciary trusteeship in 1961.The Bavarian State Painting Collections uploaded the painting onto www.lostart.de in 2006 as, due to the provenance of works in Göring’s collection, there is reason to believe it may have been looted.
Fritz Salo Glaser (b. 30.08.1876 in Zittau–d. 18.10.1956 in Dresden) was a lawyer and art collector from Dresden. His extensive collection included works by the Expressionists and artists of the German avant-garde at the time. Glaser’s wife was not of Jewish extraction and, as a result, the family survived the Holocaust. In 1971, the Bavarian State Painting Collections received the painting by Paul Klee entitled Hafenbild (Harbour Scene), that was formerly in Glaser’s collection, from Theodor und Woty Werner. Little information exists on the exact date the work was acquired or of Glaser’s heirs. The gap in the work’s provenance to be researched currently stretches from 1933 to at least 1949.
The heirs of Paul von Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (1875–1935) have being trying to validate a claim for the painting by Picasso entitled Madame Soler since 2009. The work belongs to a group of 16 paintings that Paul von Mendelssohn-Bartholdy and his wife bought around 1934/35. The painting Madame Soler passed to the art dealers Heinrich and Justin Thannhauser. Due to the lack of primary source material and the time of the sale, among other reasons, the claimants maintain the work was lost as the result of persecution. The Bavarian State Painting Collections acquired the painting in 1964 from Justin Thannhauser, acting on the assumption of an unencumbered legal transaction between Thannhauser and Mendelssohn-Bartholdy. As a result, they dismissed the restitution claim in 2010. In 2013 the heirs of Paul von Mendelssohn-Bartholdy filed a lawsuit in the USA against the Free State of Bavaria. The claim was rejected in two instances on the basis of the immunity of the State of Bavaria due to the lack of competent jurisdiction on the part of the American courts. Most recently, the US Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., the ultimate instance in the USA, rejected the endorsement of the decision in January 2016.
The Bavarian State Painting Collections have been researching the art collection of Carl Hagen since 2009. In 2014 additional external research was carried out due to repeated restitution claims. This reflects the Bavarian State Painting Collections’ serious commitment to the heirs’ claims and their increased effort to clarify the ownership structure and reach a fair and just solution according to the terms of the Washington Conference Principles. In the Hagen case, the demands of the heirs for the restitution of the painting Das Zitronenscheibchen (The Lemon Slice) by Jacob Ochtervelt could not be met as the available evidence does not support their claim that the painting was unlawfully acquired as a result of Nazi persecution.
Since 2008, the heirs of Alfred Flechtheim (1878–1937) have been pursuing claims for six paintings by Max Beckmann, three by Juan Gris and two by Paul Klee. The paintings are part of a large complex from the collection of Alfred Flechtheim that comprised works both in private ownership and from his gallery. The aforementioned works were sold by Alfred Flechtheim between 1928 and 1932. The Bavarian State Painting Collections however did not acquire the works until 1968, 1971 and 1974 through Ida Bienert, Theodor and Woty Werner and Günther Franke. As such, they are not in possession of sales receipts from the earlier period. The claimants therefore assume their loss was the result of Nazi persecution after Flechtheim’s emigration. On the basis of the current evidence available the Bavarian State Painting Collections consider the legal transactions in 1928 and 1932 to be unencumbered and see no indication of their unlawful acquisition as a result of Nazi persecution.