Website of the German Lost Art Foundation

Düsseldorfer Auktionshaus returns paintings by Wilhelm Krafft to the heirs of Max Stern


The Düsseldorfer Auktionshaus returned the painting "Italienische Familie" (1837) by Wilhelm Krafft to the Max and Iris Stern Foundation and its three university beneficiaries. The work had been identified as so-called 'Nazi confiscated property'. The painting has been handed over to the Düsseldorf Stadtmuseum as a publicly accessible permanent loan.

Uwe Hartmann, head of the Provenance Research Department at the German Lost Art Foundation, held the opening speech at the restitution ceremony: "Today’s restitution superbly demonstrates that the art trade and private organisations are increasingly complying with and are committed to the basic ideas of the Washington Principles. We shall continue working to advance this initial dialogue between the art trade and auction business, and generate awareness of Nazi confiscated property and restitution among private organisations. Consequently, since 2015 the Foundation has been supporting both publicly and privately funded organisations and private individuals who wish to identify Nazi confiscated property and find fair and just solutions in accordance with the Washington Principles and the Joint Declaration."

Founded in 1913, the Galerie Stern was forced to close in 1937 due to persecution by the Nazis. The painting by Krafft, along with a majority of the gallery’s collection, was auctioned off by Lempertz in Cologne.

After the German Lost Art Foundation received an anonymous tip that there were plans to sell the painting, the Foundation contacted representatives of the Stern Foundation. They in turn, contacted the Dusseldorf-based auctioneer, with whom they were able to negotiate a fair and just solution in the spirit of the Washington Principles.

The Jewish art dealer Max Stern escaped to Canada and bequeathed his estate to three universities in Canada and Israel. The universities established the Max Stern Art Restitution Project which aims to systematically locate and secure restitution of the gallery’s collection which had been illegally confiscated and auctioned off. The Krafft painting is the thirteenth piece which has been returned to the Stern Foundation.

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