July 14, 1997

- The Art Newspaper
- France returns artwork looted by Nazis to owner
(two articles: Reuter and Boston Globe
- Rain seriously destroys major naive art collection (our source: Art Daily at:
- Investigation into possible Cincinnati school art fraud continues
Date sent: Sat, 12 Jul 1997 13:18:29 -0400
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I am Chief Correspondent for The Art Newspaper, a London-based monthly
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Jason Edward Kaufman
France returns artwork looted by Nazis to owner
By Lee Yanowitch
PARIS, July 11 (Reuter) - A French museum has returned to its owner a valuable oil painting by Cubist Albert Gleizes that was stolen by Nazi occupiers during World War Two, museum officials said on Saturday.
Didier Schulman, a curator at the Pompidou Centre, said Francois Warin, grand-nephew of art collector Alphonse Kann whose collection of 2,000 works was looted in 1942, recovered the 1911 ``Landscape'' last week.
The work, worth more than $1 million, was one of 2,000 returned to France from Germany after the war.
When no one stepped forward to claim them, they were temporarily entrusted to state-run museums. These artworks are known as MNR (National Museum Recovery).
Warin first learned of the Gleizes work in a book by journalist Hector Feliciano, ``The Lost Museum,'' which traces the fate of many works confiscated by the Nazis.
While researching his book, Feliciano found ``Landscape'' listed in documents of the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg (ERR), a Nazi government branch that supervised the confiscation of artworks in France.
Feliciano said that after snatching the painting, the Nazis brought it to Paris' Jeu de Paume museum where they stocked confiscated artworks.
``For the Germans it was degenerate art so they bartered it or sold it for the type of paintings they liked,'' he said.
Because the Nazis considered Cubist and Impressionist art ``degenerate,'' German art dealers were able to acquire them inexpensively or in exchange for less valuable works that the Nazis coveted.
The nearly 2,000 MNRs are the remnants of some 61,000 works repatriated to France, 45,000 of which were recovered by their owners in the years immediately following the war.
Others of little value were sold at auctions.
Last January, France's state spending watchdog, the Cour des Comptes, accused the museums of failing in their legal duty to seek out the owners or heirs of the works, including paintings by Picasso, Renoir, Monet, and Cezanne and sculptures by Rodin.
Seeking to rebut the charges, French authorities put 900 of the MNRs on exhibit in April and May in five national museums, including the Louvre and the Pompidou Centre. The Gleizes was among them.
The state-museum network says few or none of the works in its possession were looted from Jews, but were sold to the Nazis by collaborationist dealers in the wartime Paris market.
While that may be the case for some of the works, others, like the Gleizes, were seized from Jews deported to death camps or fleeing persecution, or sold under duress at rock-bottom prices.
Feliciano accused state museums of doing nothing to try and return the MNRs to their owners.
Warin had to wait a year to recover the work after his original claim, even though documents listing the Gleizes were in France's Foreign Ministry archives.
``This is proof the museums haven't done their job for 50 years,'' Feliciano said. ``They had these documents in their hands.'' ^REUTER@
Copyright 1997 Reuters Limited.
Art looted by Nazis in France given back to heirs
By Associated Press, 07/13/97
PARIS - Almost 60 years after the Nazis looted a Cubist oil painting from a Jewish collector in France, the work has been returned to the man's heirs.
But the return last week of ``Landscape,'' by Albert Gleizes, without fanfare or even a public announcement, is part of a bigger story. For decades, the work had been hanging in French national museums, unknown to its rightful owners.
The French government came under withering scrutiny last year when a Paris-based American author, Hector Feliciano, charged that state museum officials had done little or nothing to trace the owners of some 2,000 Nazi-looted works still in its collections.
Officials insisted that while they might have been forgetful, they never acted in bad faith.
In April, eager to deflect growing criticism, they opened special displays of about 900 of the works in the Louvre, the Georges Pompidou Center, the Orsay Museum and elsewhere. Among those at the Pompidou Center was the 1911 Gleizes work.
Last week, it was returned to Francis Warin, the great-nephew of prominent Jewish collector Alphonse Kann.
For Feliciano, who had helped Warin trace the painting, it was a vindication of years of painstaking research - the first time one of the works he wrote about in his book, ``The Lost Museum,'' had been returned.
``I am delighted,'' Feliciano said in a telephone interview yesterday. ``This shows that public opinion has forced officials to do their job. I know they are embarrassed.
``But this is only the beginning,'' he said. ``There are many more works to be returned - not only by French museums, but by museums, dealers and collectors in Europe and also the United States.''
In an April interview, Warin said that as a boy, he had often visited his great-uncle's home in Saint-Germain-en-Laye outside Paris, marveling over the Cezannes, the Picassos, the old masters, and the statues and furniture that comprised one of the top collections in France.
When war came, Kann was in England, where he later died. Meanwhile, occupying Nazis made off with at least 1,200 of his pieces. France recovered and returned hundreds of them just after the war, but the family heard nothing of the rest for decades.
Then Feliciano's research made the front pages, and Warin contacted him. Together they traced the work. In early April, the Foreign Ministry announced three paintings would soon be returned to their rightful owners. Two - the Gleizes and a Picasso portrait - belonged to the Kann collection.
This story ran on page A19 of the Boston Globe on 07/13/97.
(c) Copyright 1997 Globe Newspaper Company.
Rain seriously destroys major naive art collection
Belgrade (DPA)
Among many well-known naive artists are Hicks, Grandma Moses, Bombois and Rousseau.
Strong rain flooded the museum containing the largest collection of naive art in the world in the Serbian city of Jagodina, destroying the majority of the works of art.
In addition to the various seriously damaged paintings over 25 thousand books on the theme were also ruined, reported the Belgrade Politika newspaper.
The collection is the most important in the world, stated the museum director Koviljka Smijkovic.
Naive art is the manner of painting in a childlike or untrained fashion, characterized by a careful, simplifying style, non-scientific perspective, bright colors and often, an enchantingly literal depiction of imaginary scenes.
Painters do not follow any particular movement or aesthetic, but have been a continuing international phenomenon and influence since the beginning of the 20th century.
The exhibition of naive painting organized by the critic Wilhelm Uhde, "The Painters of the Sacred Heart", in 1928, was a major turning point in critical recognition.
Among many well-known naive artists are Hicks, Grandma Moses, Bombois and Rousseau.

Investigation into possible Cincinnati school art fraud continues
CINCINNATI (AP) -- Investigators looking into possible fraud involving the city's public school art collection have run into difficulty because parts of it are missing.
Police are trying to find out if problems extend beyond the district's museum collection of 90 paintings. Those works are valued at about $1.3 million.
The district owns about 800 pieces of art.
``We are having difficulty finding some of them, but we're finding out their art collection is even more valuable than they thought,'' police Lt. Col. Ted Schoch said.
The school district and police earlier asked the FBI to investigate whether works from the collection purposely were sold at below-market prices for resale at greater amounts.
They started working on the case in April. The district's original inventory of its artwork was conducted in 1975.
School board member Virginia Griffin, chairwoman of the board's art advisory committee since then, said the police investigation was misguided.
``They don't understand that only the museum collection has been the subject of all the things that have gone on,'' she said.
``There are no valuable ones left in the schools. We brought the valuable ones in. The things in the schools are much less. They're not going to find anything in the schools that need to be secured,'' she said.
Schoch said an inventory was necessary to conduct a complete investigation.
The collection includes donated paintings and some works purchased with money contributed by children. It also grew through gifts by artists, their families and art patrons.
A federal grand jury began hearing testimony on the possible fraud last week.
July 14, 1997
DAILY NEWS OF LOS ANGELES from Dialog via Individual Inc. : Art thieves have hit three times in the San Fernando Valley in as many weeks - absconding with more than $770,000 in fine art, authorities said Tuesday.
Investigators said the thefts are not related, but they reflect an increase in art theft in Los Angeles and worldwide.
``L.A. is becoming more important as an art center,'' said Los Angeles police Detective Donald Hrycyk of the Art Theft Detail. ``And because there have been stories having to do with great auction prices and big acquisitions of items at the Getty, people are becoming more educated with art prices.''
No statistics for art theft were available immediately for Los Angeles, but the Art Loss Register in New York City reports heists have more than doubled in the past six years.
In its current list of stolen art includes 80,000 pieces, up from a reported 35,000 in 1991, according to the Register.
Police urge anyone with information about stolen art to call (213) 485-2524.
Most recently in the Valley, a 64-year-old retiree reported to police Tuesday that some oil paintings and Lalique glass objets d'art were missing from his storage space in the 7600 block of Gloria Avenue in Van Nuys.
Estimated value: $300,000.
``He came back one day and found out someone had pried a hole through the roof, got inside and took these paintings and this Lalique glass,'' said Hrycyk.
Only a week before, Hrycyk had received two reports of separate high-priced art thefts.
On June 27, a few lithographs attributed to Spaniard surrealist Salvador Dali were reported stolen from an auction house renting space at the Warner Center Marriott in Woodland Hills.
While certain members in a group of thieves distracted an individual assigned to guard the art pieces, other members then carried off the lithographs, Hrycyk said.
Estimated value: $70,000.
That same weekend, a Northridge home was burglarized, and more than 300 watercolors, oils and gouaches done by various Hungarian artists were stolen - along with the identifying photographs.
Estimated value: $400,000.
Anna Kisluk, director of the international Art Loss Register, suspects that thieves typically are lucky crooks who happen upon pricey items.
``They take paintings off the wall because they know it has a market value,'' Kisluk said.
Recovery rate, Kisluk noted, ranges from 10 percent to 15 percent, with a recovery period ranging anywhere from a couple of hours to a couple of decades. ``But the more famous the work is, it increases dramatically the rate that the piece will be recovered,'' she said.
[Copyright 1997, Dialog]

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