The remaining heirs of the Bleichroeder family, Laura Limon of California and grandson Frank Winkel of Munich, Germany, are suing a New York art collector asking him to return a painting looted by the Nazis in the 1930s.The suit, in Brooklyn Federal Court, alleges that the painting was cruelly stolen from their ancestor, prominent banker James von Bleichroeder, who owned a vast collection of art. Imre Pakh, 67, an investor and collector later purchased the painting for his collection. Still, NY law prohibits anyone from claiming rightful ownership of art which was stolen by the Nazis, as per the court papers.
As reported by the NY Post, thus yet, Mr. Pakh has not so much as responded to the suit. Pakh, a resident of Oyster Bay in LI, has dozens of works by renowned Hungarian artist Mihaly Munkacsy. So much so that in 2009 he opened a foundation in honor of the artist’s legacy. The painting in demand by the suit, is Munkacsy’s “Dorf Im Winter,” or “Village in Winter”. It illustrates a snowy landscape beneath a gray and red sky. “Dorf im Winter” as well as “The Raising of Lazarus”, were sold at a Nazi auction in 1938. In 2011 Bleichroeder’s heirs hired Mondex, a Canadian company, to help them locate their family’s stolen art. Last year, the family was able to recover “The Raising of Lazarus”, one of the most important paintings in their collection.
The Bleichroeders were among the wealthiest families in Germany. Gerson von Bleichroeder, James’s father was one of the first Jews to be elevated to nobility and had served Otto von Bismarck. The family’s extensive art collection included works by Rembrandt, Breughel, and Hogarth among others.
James himself converted away from Judaism to become an evangelical, and his wife, Maria, was not Jewish. This, however, did not spare them from the hatred of the Nazis in Germany. Upon his death in 1937, at the age of 70, his wife was driven from her home and their children were scattered, with one murdered in a concentration camp and another ultimately reaching America.
By: Hadassa Kalatizadeh