Alexandre continued to run the gallery his father had established on East 79th Street until his death in 1987, when it closed. In 2015, Paul’s granddaughter Marianne Rosenberg revived
the family business, launching Rosenberg & Co.
on East 66th Street, where it continues the business model that Paul pioneered, offering a mix of contemporary artists and established masters.
From time to time, pieces of the Rosenberg treasure still resurface. In 1998, the family sued
the Seattle Art Museum
, alleging that a Matisse painting in its collection, Odalisque
(1928), had been taken from Rosenberg. The museum commissioned research
that confirmed the painting had been among the 162 seized from the bank vault in southwestern France, and in 1999, the museum’s board voted to return it
to the Rosenbergs, marking a happy resolution to the first Nazi loot restitution lawsuit filed against a U.S. museum. More recently, in 2014, the Henie Onstad Kunstsenter museum near Oslo returned
Matisse’s Profil bleu devant la cheminée
(1937) to a member of the Rosenberg family. The following year, another Matisse, Woman with a Fan
(1923), which had turned up among the trove seized from Cornelius Gurlitt’s apartment, was returned
to the Rosenbergs.
Some works are still being kept from the family, however. In 1987, an Edgar Degas
pastel portrait that was taken by the Nazis resurfaced in the inventory of Hamburg-based dealer Mathias Hans. Though the family contacted Hans, he refused to identify the work’s current owner, demanding full payment to restitute the work. For now, that Degas remains
out of the Rosenbergs’ reach.
But while some of Paul Rosenberg’s collection remains hidden away, much of it is accessible to his heirs and the wider public through the countless works he gifted to museums or placed with collectors, who, in turn, donated them to institutions. He recalled an encounter with one such piece—now on prominent display at the Art Institute of Chicago
—in an unfinished autobiography Sinclair quotes in her book about her grandfather.
“One day when I was about ten, my father led me to the shop window of a dealer who kept a gallery on the rue Le Peletier, to show me a painting that made me shriek with horror,” Rosenberg wrote, describing a painting of a shabby bedroom rendered in “violent colors” with warped walls and dancing furniture. It was one of Van Gogh’s Bedroom in Arles (1889).
“My father calmed me down and said, ‘I don’t know this artist, and the canvas isn’t signed, but I’m going to find out about him because I’d like to buy some of his paintings,’” Rosenberg continued. “The canvas was by Van Gogh, it’s the one that’s in the Art Institute of Chicago, and which, by an irony of fate, I myself sold about 30 years later.”