Paintings looted by Nazi, recovered by Allies to be auctioned in NY

Mon Jan 27, 2014 1:42pm EST
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By Patricia Reaney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Paintings looted by the Nazis during World War Two and retrieved by the Monuments Men, the Allied group tasked with returning masterpieces to their rightful owners, will be sold at auction on Thursday in New York.

The works, which will go under the hammer during Sotheby's sale of Important Old Master Paintings and Sculpture, were among the tens of thousands of works recovered by the art experts whose story is told in the George Clooney film "The Monuments Men," which opens in U.S. theaters on February 7.

"The scale of looting was absolutely extraordinary," said Lucian Simmons, Sotheby's head of restitution.

"In France, for example, 36,000 paintings were stolen from institutions and largely from individuals. The Monuments Men managed to recover and return the majority of those," he said in an interview.

Two small paintings in the sale, "La cueillette des roses" and "Le musicien" by the French rococo artist Jean-Baptise Pater, were chosen by Adolf Hitler's air force chief Hermann Goering for his personal collection.

The works were taken from the family of Baron James Mayer de Rothschild in Paris in 1940. After they were returned they remained in the family until the end of the 20th century. They will be sold as one lot with a pre-sale estimate of up to


Another work, "Venice, a view of the Piazzetta looking towards San Giorgio Maggiore" by Francesco Guardi, once belonged to the French fashion designer and art collector Jacques Doucet, who died in 1929. The Nazis looted the painting from the widow of the banker Andre Louis-Hirsch in Paris in 1941. It could fetch as much as $300,000.   Continued...