Just End for Painting Stolen by Nazis From Bank Vault

Granddaughter of late Jewish art collector thinks it's 'lovely'
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 13, 2018 7:40 AM CDT

(Newser) – "Lovely colors. Lovely painting," was Sylvie Sulitzer's reaction upon first seeing Pierre-Auguste Renoir's "Two Women in a Garden," a 1919 painting owned by her grandfather and stolen by Nazis. One of 13 paintings Jewish art collector and dealer Alfred Weinberger stored in a Paris bank vault before fleeing the city, the Impressionist work was seized in December 1941 before being offered at auctions in London, Johannesburg, Zurich, and New York over the ensuing decades, reports the New York Times. For a time owned by a company operating art galleries on cruise ships, it was sold in 2012 for $390,000, then put on the auction block by Christie's a year later. That's when 59-year-old Sulitzer, Weinberger's granddaughter and only heir, caught wind of it.

Upon hearing from Sulitzer's lawyer, Christie's withdrew the painting and alerted the FBI. In a Wednesday ceremony at New York City's Museum of Jewish Heritage, the 12-by-15-inch canvas was officially returned to Sulitzer. "I think he would be very, very happy," she said of Weinberger, who became a rural resistance fighter rather than accept an offer to serve as an art expert for the Nazis; before his death in 1977, he would file claims for the painting with both French and German authorities. "I'm very thankful to be able to show my beloved family, wherever they are, that after all they've been through, there is justice," Sulitzer added, per CNN. The painting might not stay in the family, however. Having been previously compensated for it by the French government, Sulitzer said she's required to return what is "a huge amount of money for me."

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