A New York museum returns Nazi-looted painting - and buys it back again | Culture| Arts, music and lifestyle reporting from Germany | DW | 29.09.2016
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A New York museum returns Nazi-looted painting - and buys it back again

After the discovery of its true provenance, the Neue Galerie in New York has returned a Nazi-looted painting to the original owner's heirs, and then bought it back again at its "fair market value."

The New York Neue Galerie, the Museum for German and Austrian Art, has bought "Nude," a canvas by German Expressionist painter Karl Schmidt-Rottluff (1884-1976), the "New York Times" reports.

The artwork had actually been in the museum's collection for years - until it was recently revealed that the painting had been looted by the Nazis.

The museum gave the seized painting back to the heirs of the previous owners, art collector and shoe manufacturer Alfred Hess and his wife, Tekla. The Neue Galerie then legally reacquired the artwork.

Ownership concerns

The museum reportedly re-bought the painting, which disappeared from storage after Tekla fled to Britain in 1939 and resurfaced at an auction in Berlin in 1994, at its "fair market value." Specific figures were not disclosed.

The museum said that no issues surrounding the painting's provenance were known when the Neue Galerie first acquired it in 1999, at the same auction house in Berlin, but that new information had since emerged.

According to the "New York Times," the Hess family had approached the museum a little over a year ago. Research into additional German archives showed the extent to which "the Hess family collection had been pilfered."

The Neue Galerie, which opened on Fifth Avenue in 2001, specializes in German and Austrian art, and primarily houses the collection of its founder, cosmetics heir Ronald Lauder.

Karl Schmidt-Rottluff and Die Brücke

Painter Schmidt-Rottluff was a founding member of Die Brücke, a group of avant-garde Expressionist artists that formed in 1905 in Dresden. The top picture shows a black-and-white photo of the artist and his paintings, at a retrospective of his works held in Chemnitz earlier this year.

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