The heirs of Piet Mondrian challenged Philadelphia Museum of Art over the ownership of a Dutch artist’s painting that was expropriated by the Nazis representing the property rights. They are looking to get the work back, titled Composition with blue color (1926), has been kept by the museum for nearly 70 years.
According to the source provided by the PMA, the diamond painting was consigned by the artist in 1927 to the famous art dealer Sophie Küppers. She entrusted it to a museum in Hanover, Germany, which was then raided by National Socialist authorities in 1937, shortly before Mondrian fled to London. It was later acquired in 1939 by renowned American collector AE Gallatin from the Buchholz Gallery in New York, a popular repository of so-called “degenerate” German-made art. trading community.
PMA officials say that Mondrian never objected to Gallatin’s ownership of the painting or to display it in the collector’s Gallery of Living Art at New York University. In 1952, Gallatin bequeathed his entire collection to the PMA.
The trustees of the Connecticut-based Elizabeth McManus Holtzman Irrevocable Trust, children of Elizabeth McManus Holtzman and American painter Harry Holtzman, who sponsored Mondrian to immigrate to New York to escape Nazi repression . Following Mondrian’s death in 1944, Holtzman was appointed executor and sole heir to his estate.
The complaint states that Mondrian, who died four years after arriving in the United States, “didn’t know he had any recourse to restore his prized painting. Similarly, Harry Holtzman also died without knowing that Mondrian, and therefore he, owned the painting”.
One of the trustees bringing the case, Madalena Holtzman, said in a statement ARTnews that “this great work of Mondrian was captured by the Nazis. We are very disappointed that we have been forced to sue to enforce our rights.”
The PMA has strongly denied the allegation that Ingredient illegally acquired. Holtzman, who died in 1987, did not challenge the PMA’s ownership of the painting, officials said.
In a statement for ARTnews, The museum said it “fully supports the restoration of artwork looted by the Nazi regime to its rightful owners, and we have done so in the past”. However, “the private foundation that is suing the Museum has no legal claim to Composition with blue color by Piet Mondrian. In fact, the painting was purchased by A.E. Gallatin, a friend of the artist who had Mondrian’s full knowledge and continued support. display it publicly. Mondrian even volunteered to restore the work to Gallatin and expressed his great joy at Gallatin’s management of the painting”.
The museum said it would “strongly defend against this nullity claim.”
Last year, Kunstmuseen Krefeld faced a similar lawsuit filed by the estate for the forfeiture of four of the artist’s paintings on loan to a German institution in 1929. The lawsuit also seeks damages for four additional works allegedly sold in the 1950s to financed the acquisition of works by Marc Chagall, Henri Matisse, and Pablo Picasso. According to the heirs, the works appeared in the archives in 1947, but the museum did not notify the estate nor promptly list the paintings in its inventory.
The heirs publicly claimed ownership of the Krefeld group in 2018, according to a report in New York Times. The museum told Times that the organization believes the works are gifts from Mondrian, but there is no evidence to support this claim. A museum spokesman said Mondrian “regularly gives away paintings he no longer uses”.
https://www.artnews.com/art-news/news/modrian-heirs-philadelphia-museum-lawsuit-1234613204/ Mondrian Heirs Sue Philadelphia Museum Workplace ‘Arrested by the Nazis’ – ARTnews.com