Painting stolen by the Nazis returned to rightful owners after decades

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A painting by German-Jewish artist Max Liebermann stolen by the Nazis will be returned to its rightful owners [Silesian Art Collections]
“Basket Weavers,” a painting by German-Jewish artist Max Liebermann, will finally be returned to its American heirs after being confiscated by the Nazis.

Stolen in 1939 from the collection of Jewish industrialist David Friedmann, the painting was acquired by German art dealer Hildebrand Gurlitt and eventually purchased by an anonymous Israeli Holocaust survivor.

The painting will be returned to 91-year-old Holocaust survivor David Toren, the grand-nephew of Friedmann.

“He’s of mixed emotions because he still harbors, understandably, a lot of resentment and anger toward the Germans,” Toren’s son, Peter, told the Associated Press. “A painting certainly can’t make up for that.”

Meir Heller, the attorney representing the Israeli survivor, said he was relieved for the case to be done with, according to AP.

“This was not a legal case that I wanted to win because it would not be a victory for either of the sides or for the interests of the Jewish people,” Heller said. “I’m glad that we have come to an agreement with all the emotions and all the baggage involved.”

Cornelius Gurlitt, Hildebrand Gurlitt’s son, was found in 2012 to have hoarded over 1,200 works of art inherited from his father in his apartment, including paintings by Monet, Renoir, and Mattisse. The younger Gurlitt had also stored 250 works of art in Salzburg, Vienna.

Liebermann’s “Basket Weavers” was purchased by the anonymous Israeli survivor at a Berlin auction in 2000. The survivor sought to have the painting returned to Toren after learning that it had been looted from his great-uncle by the Nazis.

The German government is currently being sued by Peter Toren for the return of 52 paintings also looted by the Nazis. Thus far, only five paintings in Gurlitt’s collection have been returned to their Jewish owners, due to the difficult process of establishing ownership.

04/09/2017 5:03 PM by Menachem Rephun

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