The owner of a painting at the Israel Museum, titled “Garden in Wannsee” and painted by Jewish artist Max Liebermann, was located and paid for his property. The painting had been stolen by the Nazis during World War II. After the war, it was given to a Jewish restitution organization, and ended up at the Israel Museum.
The original owner of the impressionist painting was Max Cassirer, a wealthy Berlin businessman from a family of art dealers. The painting was confiscated by the Nazis in 1941, along with Cassirer’s other assets. Last year, his heir came across a photo of Cassirer’s Berlin home in which the painting can be seen hanging, along with other works of art. As soon as the museum verified the heir’s claim, it arranged to pay him the fair market value in order to keep the work.
“The rightful restitution of works of art that were stolen or unwillingly sold during the Second World War is a challenge that many continue to face,” said museum director James Snyder. “We do our best to be exemplary in the handling of World War II restitution claims and are especially pleased to be able to achieve a resolution in the case of Max Liebermann’s masterwork, ‘Garden in Wannsee’.”
The Israel Museum is in possession of some 1200 pieces of art believed to have been confiscated by the Nazis. It has paid restitution for about two dozen, and has created an online catalogue of the remaining pieces to help owners find their missing property.