German Casino Returns Nazi-Looted Painting To University Heirs Of Stern Estate

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Concordia Media Release

Amsterdam museum pays special tribute to portrait painter of Dutch Golden Age

Masters of the Goldsmith GuildMONTREAL, 25 October 2011 – Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, acting on behalf of the executors of the Estate of Dr. Max Stern and its three university beneficiaries (Concordia, McGill University/Montreal, Hebrew University/Jerusalem) announces the restitution of a painting belonging to the German-Jewish art dealer. The return of The Masters of the Goldsmith Guild in Amsterdam in 1701 by Dutch portrait painter, Juriaen Pool II (1665–1745), took place on Tuesday, October 25, 2011 at 10 a.m. (Central European Time)  at The Amsterdam Museum, St Luciënsteeg 27, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

The location for the ceremony is particularly significant as the Dutch museum has just opened a children’s wing in a space that was once occupied by the very orphanage in which Juriaen Pool was raised. The figure of this artist from the Dutch Golden Age now serves as a “guide” for visitors through the exhibitions. Pool married Rachel Ruysch (1664–1750) — one of the most prominent woman artists of the time. The couple became court painters to the Elector Palatine, Johann Wilhelm.

The Pool painting is the ninth Nazi-looted artwork to be returned to the university heirs. It was learned that this large-scale painting of some of Amsterdam’s most important citizens had been with the Galerie Stern in Düsseldorf as late as 1937, when it moved to the Galerie Heinemann in Wiesbaden. In the years after the Second World War it was acquired by  a casino in southern Germany, where it has been ever since.

In 2004 Sotheby’s contacted  representatives of the Max Stern Art Restitution Project regarding the status of the painting. During six years of rigorous research which included the discovery of key archival records in the Netherlands Institute for Art History (RKD), the Holocaust Claims Processing Office (HCPO) of the New York State Department of Financial Services advocated for its restitution. “We are extremely grateful to all the actors —  the HCPO, the RKD and Sotheby’s — who were critical in the recovery of this work from a German corporate collection” says Frederick Lowy, President and Vice-Chancellor of Concordia University. “We are in ongoing discussions with a number of other German organizations, including some major museums who also possess Stern works, and remain hopeful that more good news will follow.”

Dr. Max Stern (1904–1987) was forced to dissolve his Düsseldorf art gallery during the Nazi period. Following World War II, he settled permanently in Montreal, Canada where he became one of the country’s most important art dealers and collectors. He bequeathed the bulk of his estate to three major universities. The Max Stern Art Restitution Project is spearheaded by Concordia through the Office of the President, working in close collaboration with the HCPO as well as with numerous institutions and governmentagencies worldwide including the Art Loss Register, Interpol and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

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