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'Alfred Flechtheim. Raubkunst und Restitution (Alfred Flechtheim: Plundered Art and its Restitution) '

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Alfred Flechtheim. Raubkunst und Restitution (Alfred Flechtheim: Plundered Art and its Restitution)


Bambi, Andrea; Drecoll, Axel (eds)


May 2015


Publisher's description of
Aims and Scope

Alfred Flechtheim was one of the most important art dealers of his era. His galleries included works by Paul Klee and Pablo Picasso. Persecuted by the Nazi regime, Flechtheim fled abroad. The fate of much of his collection remains obscure and a matter of contention to this day. In this study, experts from various disciplines use the example of Flechtheim to address controversial questions about the restitution of plundered art.

  • The destiny of a persecuted influential art dealer
  • Dealing with plundered and looted art after the “Gurlitt collection case”
  • With contributions by international experts in art history, history, and law sciences

To read the table of contents click here.

Andrea Bambi, Bavarian State Painting Collections, Munich;
Axel Drecoll, Institute of History, Munich and Berlin

Publication details:
303 pages, 16 Fig., De Gruyter Oldenbourg, In German and English, ISBN 978-3-11-040497-5


To read a review of 6 January 2016 by Jürgen Lillteicher, Bundeskanzler-Willy-Brandt-Stiftung / Willy-Brandt-Haus Lübeck, click here.

English summary: Lillteicher summarises the four parts of the book. He writes that the first part explores the history of looting and restitution into which the persecution and emigration of Flechtheim can be contextualised. Frank Bajohr and Anja Heuß, both experts in this area, outline the principles and phases of the history of persecution with Heuß focusing on the limits on and scope of possibilities available to the art dealer. Constantin Goschler sets out the background for all current restitution efforts: the permanence of property claims as against compensation, the monetisation of historical injustice in the context of legal disputes and the relationship of cultural property to collective identity. The second and most extensive part includes contributions from nine authors. These explore how the loss of Flechtheim's property corresponds to typical patterns of aryanisation and in particular the complexities arising from his collection consisting of privately owned works and gallery owned works of which some were on commission and some others were jointly owned. This reveals the importance of provenance research on the history and status of every single artwork and demonstrates how meticulous it must be when sources are scarce. The third part provides similar cases for the purpose of comparison, exploring the role of emigration and reparation in relation to other dealers. The fourth part is dedicated to examining individual Flechtheim artworks including those that have been subject to restitution claims. 

All contributions to the book are either translated into English or have an English summary. Legal issues are only discussed in an appendix.

Lillteicher comments on the interests of museums undertaking research and publishing such books. He thinks that the organisation and content of the book mirrors the fact that much of provenance research today does not focus on establishing rightful ownership and whether the scrutinised works were lost due to Nazi persecution, but on more general art historical questions. He urges future books of this kind to fully integrate legal questions from the outset, in order to expedite clarification of who is the rightful owner of the works of art in question. 


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