Decades after the Nazis stole from the family of art collector Adolphe Schloss, justice is finally being served after the Federal Bureau of Investigations is returning it to Schloss’s descendants. France 24 News reports that the family is getting back a painting that dates back to 1639 and is called “A Scholar Sharpening His Quill,” painted by Salomon Konick.
By: Sara Letus
In a few short days at the very beginning of next month, the FBI will help the artwork get to the rightful owner, with everything happening at the French consulate as French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and Jewish representatives keep an eye on the proceedings during the handing over of the artwork to the unnamed heirs from the family. The painting wasn’t the only one that was stolen either, with about 333 other paintings that Schloss owned being taken by the Nazis from storage in southern France, France 24 added. Schloss had some particularly valuable paintings, enough so that some even made it to Hitler’s Munich headquarters.
The heirs got a break when the Konick painting appeared at an auction over a year ago at an auction house in New York. Once investigators started questioning the Chilean art dealer about where he got the expensive and stolen painting, to which he replied that a man named Walter Andreas Hofer sold it in 1952 to the dealer’s dad. This information made the case crystal clear to investigators because Hofers was best known for peddling stolen Nazi goods and buying art for the leader of the Nazi air force Hermann Goring.
It’s actually not that unusual for investigators to look for these types of stolen goods at auction houses, and the Jewish Voice has done plenty of reporting about artwork stolen by Nazis that is still trying to be recovered.
A number of years following World War II, American officials in Munich, Germany deposited more than 10,000 confiscated works of art with Bavarian authorities, so that those authorities would return the works to their rightful owners, which included many Jews whose property had been stolen amidst the displacement of the Holocaust.
However, as reported by the New York Times, research showed that Bavarian officials often caved in to the demands of Nazi families who felt the art was their rightful property, and returned the pieces.
Hitler’s private secretary, Henriette von Schirach, badgered Bavarian officials to turn over nearly 300 works, including a small landscape, “View of a Dutch Square,” to her family. The painting was originally owned by Gottlieb and Mathilde Kraus, Jews who escaped from Vienna, leaving behind a collection of art that was grabbed up by the Gestapo in 1941.
“The basic element of this story is this: They stole from my family,” commented John Graykowski, the Krauses’ great-grandson, to the New York Times, “and then they gave it back to the guy who stole it from them. How does that work?”
Research has shown that hundreds of stolen artworks were actually sold back at discounted prices in the first decades after the war to the same Nazis who had taken possession of them.