Israel Museum returns Nazi-looted artwork

JTA 29 September 2010

JERUSALEM (JTA) -- The Israel Museum has restituted a Paul Klee drawing to the estate of the Jewish art collector who owned the work before it was looted by the Nazis.

Klee's 1920 drawing was owned by Harry Fuld J. from 1932 until 1941. Fuld left "Veil Dance" and several other works with a transportation firm when he fled for England in 1937. In 1941, following a new law by which Jewish citizens who had left Germany lost their German nationality and property, his citizenship and assets were revoked, and his art collection was confiscated by the Third Reich.

The drawing was received in 1950 by the Israel Museum’s precursor, the Bezalel National Museum, through the Jewish Restitution Successor Organization, established after World War II to distribute looted works of art whose owners or heirs were unknown to cultural organizations around the globe. 

Fuld died in 1963, and left his estate to his housekeeper Gita Gisela Martin. At her death in 1992, she left her estate to the United Kingdom's branch of Magen David Adom, 

After new research brought the drawing’s provenance to light, the museum transferred the drawing to Magen David Adom, according to a news release issued by the Israel Museum.

“The Israel Museum strives to serve as a model for responsible restitution, and we are pleased to do so now by restituting this work in exemplary fashion, as we have in other instances in the past,” said James S. Snyder, Anne and Jerome Fisher Director of the Israel Museum.

The museum in 2008 restituted two ancient Roman gold-glass medallions to the heirs of the Dzialynska Collection at Goluchow Castle in Poland. Also, in 2005, Edgar Degas’ charcoal drawing "Four Nude Female Dancers Resting" was restituted to the heirs of Jacques Goudstikker, a noted Dutch art dealer who died while fleeing the Nazi invasion of the Netherlands. And in 2000, the Museum returned Camille Pissarro’s "Boulevard Montmarte" to the heir of Holocaust victim Max Silberberg, who placed the painting on long-term loan to the museum.
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