French Judge Orders Restitution of Nazi-Looted André Derain Paintings to Family of Jewish Art Dealer

ARTnews 1 October 2020
By Claire Selvin

A Paris court of appeals has ruled that three Nazi-looted paintings by the Fauvist artist André Derain must be restituted to the family of a Jewish art dealer René Gimpel, who was killed in the Holocaust. The ruling follows a court’s refusal to meet Gimpel’s heirs’ request for restitution in August 2019, citing insufficient evidence of a forced sale, carried out under duress and at a low price point.

The three works, which were created between 1907 and 1910 and are now titled Paysage à Cassis, La Chapelle-sous-Crécy, and Pinède à Cassis, have been held by two French institutions—the Modern Art Museum in Troyes and the Cantini Museum in Marseille. According to a report by the French newspaper Le Figaro, the judgement reached in 2019 was overturned by the appeals court, which ruled that the works had been looted during the war.

Le Figaro reports that members of the dealer’s family are still working to reclaim other works stolen or lost. Gimpel, who had galleries in Paris and New York, was a supporter and patron of modern artists, and he maintained a diary about the art world and his dealings within it in the interwar years. He died at the Neuengamme concentration camp in Germany in 1945.

The appeals court said that the three paintings acquired by Gimpel in 1921 have been renamed in the intervening years. Corinne Hershkovitch, who represented the family in the case, had previously claimed that Gimpel altered the titles of the works around the time of their sale at the outbreak of the war.
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