News Articles Library Event Photos Contact Search

Displaying items by tag: Battle

This past March, the highest court in Germany for civil affairs ordered that 4,300 pre-World War II posters looted by Nazis were to be returned to Peter Sachs, a retired airline pilot. Sachs is the son of Hans Sachs, a Jewish dentist who fled Germany in 1938 after being arrested by Nazis and sentenced to the Saschsenhausen concentration camp.

The poster collection, worth more than $5.8 million, was previously kept at The Deutsches Historisches Museum in Berlin. Sachs started his collection in the late 19th century at a young age and went on to publish a poster magazine called Das Plakat, found a society, and give lectures on the subject. Unique works by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Ludwig Hohlwein, Lucian Bernhard, and Jules Cheret are included in the collection.

At the time of its confiscation, Sachs’ collection was the largest of its kind. When the Gestapo seized the posters in 1938, Sachs was told that Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels wanted the works for a new museum wing dedicated to “business” art. Sachs’ collection included advertisements for travel destinations and various products as well as propaganda and political posters.

When Sachs arrived in the U.S. with his wife and young son, he assumed that he would never see his collection again. In 1961 he accepted about $50,000 from the West German government, figuring the works had not survived the war. In 1966 when Sachs learned that some of his collection was still intact in East Berlin, he made contact with communist authorities in an attempt to get the posters loaned for exhibitions. He never succeeded.

After Sachs’ death, his son Peter fought a five-year legal battle for the return of his father’s posters after a government panel denied his claim in 2007. The court ultimately ruled that Sachs had never lost legal ownership of the post collection and that Peter, Sachs’ heir, had the right to possession.

Guernsey’s auction house will handle the collections’ sale in three intervals. The first auction is scheduled for January 18, 2013 and the second and third series will take place at six-month intervals. Guernsey’s hopes to find a single buyer for the collection and has been in talks with museums in Germany, Israel, and the U.S.  

Published in News
Monday, 15 October 2012 17:52

After Seven Years, Egon Schiele Case is Closed

On October 11, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals decided that the current owner of Egon Schiele’s Seated Woman with Bent Left Leg (Torso) could keep the drawing he purchased in the early 1960s from a gallery in Manhattan. Featuring the artist’s signature muted color palette, the work has been at the center of a seven-year-long legal battle.

The dispute arose when heirs to Fritz Grunbaum, a Viennese cabaret singer who was murdered by Nazis in 1941, claimed that the work had been unlawfully confiscated from Grunbaum’s estate in 1938. Although David Bakalar currently owns the drawing, Grunbaum’s heirs, Milos Vavra and Leon Fischer, considered themselves to be the rightful proprietors. When Bakalar attempted to sell Seated Woman at Sotheby’s London in 2004, Vavra and Fischer stopped the sale. Bakalar, who had bought the Schiele drawing from Galerie St. Etienne for about $3,300, was attempting to sell the work for about $675,000.

Although Grunbaum was a noted collector of Schiele’s work, there was no direct evidence that he had owned Seated Woman or that Nazis had confiscated the drawing. However, evidence emerged that Grunbaum’s sister-in-law, Mathilde Lukacs, sold the drawing in Switzerland in 1956. The Swiss dealers who had purchased the drawing from Lukacs testified in the case and provided records of the sale. Based on this evidence, the U.S. District Court ruled that Grunbaum was most likely not the drawing’s owner and that Nazis had not stolen the piece, rather, it had stayed with the family until the sale in 1956.

The Court’s ruling was particularly significant because Bakalar had employed New York’s “laches defense,” a defense that is used by good-faith buyers to protect themselves against frivolous claims. While Schiele’s heirs claimed that if Lukacs had owned the drawing it was because she had stolen it from Grunbaum, Bakalar argued that the fact was irrelevant because no claims had been filed and that crucial evidence had disappeared over the decades.

Published in News
Wednesday, 26 October 2011 02:47

FIAC vs. Frieze: battle of the art fairs

Eight years ago it was considered dead and buried, but FIAC (Foire Internationale d’Art Contemporain), France’s premier contemporary art fair in Paris, has since staged a dramatic revival, with some commentators claiming that its latest edition, which closed on Sunday, was even better than Frieze.

Now in its 38th year, FIAC was long regarded as a ’must attend’ fair for collectors of modern and contemporary art along with fairs in Basel and Cologne. But following the recession of 1991, it became largely dependent on French exhibitors and French artists, and experienced a slump in the international ratings. The Frieze Art Fair, which began in 2003, was timed to run bang in between the autumnal fairs in Cologne and Paris, and was a direct challenge to both. But while Cologne succumbed, changing shape and shifting dates, FIAC hung on in there to meet the challenge.

Although the two are essentially different in that FIAC combines early 20th century modern art with the contemporary, and Frieze is exclusively focussed on the latter, FIAC needed a more international contemporary edge, so a battle for key exhibitors ensued.

The most important change came in 2006 when FIAC moved from a convention centre on the outskirts of Paris to the imposing splendour of the Grand Palais, with a courtyard at the Louvre for the younger galleries. Outdoor sculptures were placed in the Tuileries Gardens, satellite art fairs sprung up, and private collectors and museums mounted special exhibitions to make FIAC a special cultural event.

Within the fair, a process of internationalising the exhibitor list began to the point where French gallery representation has been reduced from 70 per cent in 2003, to 31 per cent this year. Major names to have joined the fair recently are New York’s Barbara Gladstone, which ceased exhibiting at Frieze after it opened a gallery in Brussels, and Gagosian, which opened a gallery in Paris last year, but still does both fairs. About a dozen other galleries have opted for Paris over London in the last four years, but rather than a drift, it’s been more of a game of musical chairs as galleries leave and then return to FIAC, as they did this year.

Published in News
Tagged under