The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 United States Monday, October 15, 2018


New book raises questions about weapons dealer E.G. Buehrle's Nazi-era art
The Buehrle Foundation itself confirms that 13 paintings bought by the German-born industrialist, who later acquired Swiss citizenship, had been stolen by the Nazis from Jewish owners in France.

By: Ben Simon


GENEVA (AFP).- How to define Nazi-era "loot" is central to what could prove a touchy book launched Tuesday on the controversy surrounding one of Europe's most prestigious private art collections, the impressionist works acquired by E.G. Buehrle.

The late industrialist amassed a fortune selling weapons to both the Nazis and the Allies during World War II, wealth that helped buy several hundred artworks -- some from Jews under threat -- that will soon go on show at one of Switzerland's leading museums, the Kunsthaus in Zurich.

The book, "Schwarzbuch Buhrle" ("Buehrle Black Book") offers a new challenge -- is it morally defensible to display such paintings, especially in a museum that receives public subsidies?

"The city of Zurich and the Kunsthaus have to be very careful how they are handling this collection because the damage for the reputation of the city could be serious," co-author Thomas Buomberger told AFP.

The Buehrle Foundation itself confirms that 13 paintings bought by the German-born industrialist, who later acquired Swiss citizenship, had been stolen by the Nazis from Jewish owners in France.

Following a series of court cases after the war, Buehrle returned all 13 pieces to their rightful owners then repurchased nine of them, the foundation said.

While these transactions were aimed at giving legitimacy to the entire Zurich-based collection, Buomberger's research focuses on pieces sold by Jews under duress, possibly while fleeing for their lives.

For him, the term looted art should apply to "all transactions which would not have taken place if the Nazis had not been in power, which means of course works of art that were sold in Switzerland by Jews who had to flee."

If any painting sold by an owner who faced imminent threat from the Nazis can be categorised as war loot -- as the German term for such pieces, Fluchtgut, or escape-goods, would indicate -- then much of the Buehrle collection, and pieces across Switzerland, fall under suspicion, Buomberger told AFP.

"I am speaking of hundreds if not thousands of works of art," he said.

 

- Willing seller? - 

Kunsthaus spokesman Bjoern Quellenberg disagrees. Works sold under duress, he said, "cannot be regarded from the same perspective as the looted art, not at all."

He said the museum had long dealt with the Buehrle Foundation and has tried to swiftly address any questions about the works' provenance. He also confirmed that the Kunsthaus plans to display the entire Buehrle collection when its new wing is completed in 2020.

Talks on transferring the paintings to the museum began in 2002 but accelerated after a spectacular 2008 heist in which men disguised in ski masks stole four 19th-century masterpieces at the Buehrle Foundation, a theft that shocked the country.

But Buomberger pointed to one piece that he said highlighted outstanding questions -- "La Sultane" by Eduoard Manet, which his research showed had been owned by a man named Max Silberberg who died at Auschwitz.

He insisted there was a moral obligation to seriously investigate the circumstances that led Silberberg to sell. "It is not something to be done if you have time and money. It is really a duty to fullfil."

For the museum spokesman, Buomberger has set impossible criteria.

"The Fluchtgut does not fall under convention. It's not a term which can be legally employed or legally binding to anybody," Quellenberg told AFP.

Even the Washington Principles, guidelines signed in 1998 by Germany and more than 40 other countries on dealing with art stolen in World War II, speaks specifically about works "confiscated by the Nazis" not art sold by Jews and other persecuted people who had to escape, he said.

"The accusations from Mr. Buomberger, they don't have a point, really," said Quellenberg.

 

- With wealth comes 'shadows' - 

Buomberger's book also delves into the Buehrle family history, not only E.G.'s lucrative dealings with both sides during the war but also the maligned politics of his son, Dieter.

After the father died suddenly in 1956, Dieter formed a particularly close relationship with apartheid South Africa as he looked to expand business outside Europe.

P.W. Botha, the former South African president and unrelenting defender of white minority rule, gave Dieter an honour for "meritorious service".

"This background is also important," said Buomberger.

Quellenberg said such biographical details were not the Kunsthaus's concern.

"We mainly focus on the works. We do not deal with the family history at all... No matter where you look in the world, if you have a big family name, even the Rockefellers, you never say their money was always clean," he told AFP.

"So, in the art world, as well as everywhere there is wealth, there are some shadows."

bs/nl/ns



© 1994-2015 Agence France-Presse





Today's News

August 26, 2015

Taiwan boy accidentally damages $1.5 million painting by Italian artist Paolo Porpora

Stimulate your senses as Tate Sensorium, a new immersive art experience, is unveiled at Tate Britain

Bob Dylan's never-before-seen draft for 'A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall' offered at Sotheby's

Islamic State group publishes images of Palmyra's Baal Shamin temple destruction

The bongs are wrong on London's Big Ben; Mysteriously running fast over the past fortnight

Taschen publishes new book of Polaroids, many of them never seen before, by Andy Warhol

Newly discovered portrait of Winston Churchill to be displayed at 20/21 British Art Fair

'Comic Book Apocalypse: The Graphic World of Jack Kirby' opens at California State University

Metropolitan Museum of Art to launch The Met Breuer in March 2016 expanding art program

New book raises questions about weapons dealer E.G. Buehrle's Nazi-era art

New exhibitions of works by Erin Shirreff and Mona Hatoum open at the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston

Crocker Art Museum acquires significant 18th century portrait by Alexandre Roslin

Winterthur welcomes Dr. Marie-Stephanie Delamaire as Associate Curator of Fine Art

Nevada Museum of Art presents the first major art historical survey of Lake Tahoe

The Canadian Centre for Architecture presents 'The SAAL Process: Housing in Portugal 1974-1976'

Horace Ballard joins Birmingham Museum of Art as new Curator of Education

Galeria Jaqueline Martins opens exhibition of works by Lais Myrrha

Iranian epic 'Muhammad' aims to change Islam's image

Spanish artist's humorous and grotesque film on view at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Rizzoli publishes first comprehensive catalogue on the African objects collected by Dr. Albert C. Barnes

Russia court jails Ukrainian filmmaker for 'terrorism'

Most Popular Last Seven Days



1.- Rare original Star Wars concept art unseen for 35 years may bring $100,000 at Heritage Auctions

2.- Is Robin Cunningham the Mysterious and Unknown Grafitti Artist Banksy?

3.- Banksy shocks art world by shredding £1 million work at auction

4.- Rare sign used on steps when JFK disembarked at Love Field go to auction Oct 13

5.- British curator uncovers rape confession -- 300 years on

6.- Unprecedented loans from the National Portrait Gallery, London, chronicle 500 years of the British monarchy

7.- Kunsthistorisches Museum opens once-in-a-lifetime Pieter Bruegel the Elder exhibition

8.- The tricky process of returning Nazi-looted art

9.- New auction record set for a living female artist

10.- US couple lose bid to win back WWII looted Pissarro painting



Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .

 

Founder:
Ignacio Villarreal
Editor & Publisher:Jose Villarreal - Consultant: Ignacio Villarreal Jr.
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez


Royalville Communications, Inc
produces:

ignaciovillarreal.org avemariasound.org juncodelavega.com facundocabral-elfinal.org
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
Hommage
to a Mexican poet.
Hommage
       

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful