MMD newswire 3 July 2007
(New York, New York) The heirs of Otto Nathan Deutsch have called on Sweden to return the Nolde painting "Blumengarten (Utenwarf)". The painting is currently located at the Moderne Museet in Stockholm.
The original owner, Otto Nathan Deutsch was a prominent Jewish businessman living in Frankfurt, Germany during the Nazi period. After having lost his business due to Nazi persecution and after having to pay Jewish taxes and prohibitive exit taxes, he left Nazi Germany in 1938/1939 for Amsterdam. The Nolde painting was left behind with other paintings and household goods with a German moving company in Frankfurt and were to be delivered to Deutsch in Amsterdam, but the paintings and household items never arrived. After WWII, family members inquired as to the whereabouts of the paintings, but were told by the moving company that they were destroyed in bombing attacks. The Deutsch heirs filed claims with Germany for the loss of the paintings and household items after WWII and received a small compensation for their loss.
After having acknowledged that the painting was looted/stolen from the Deutsch family, the Swedish government stated in a letter from their attorney that it purchased the painting from the Ketterer Galerie in Lugano, Switzerland in 1960's. It is believed that no provenance was given for the painting at the time of the sale.
It is not currently known how the Ketterer Galerie obtained the painting, including who consigned or sold it to them. Records regarding the sale are believed to be held at the Henze Ketterer Galerie in Wichtrachten/Bern, Switzerland.
The Swedish Cultural Ministry issued a statement last week that it had given the assignment to the Moderne Museet to make a settlement with the Deutsch heirs without delay, taking into account the principles of the Washington Conference on Holocaust Looted Assets. http://www.mmdnewswire.com