German firm returning looted painting by Dutch master

Toby Axelrod

BERLIN (JTA) — A German baking goods company is returning another painting to the heir of Jews who were forced to sell the artwork while fleeing Nazi Germany.

Dr. Oetker will return “Portrait of Adriaen Moens,” by the Dutch master Anthonis van Dyck, to Marei von Saher, the daughter-in-law and only living heir of the renowned collector Jacques Goudstikker, the German news agency dpa reported. Goudstikker was a Dutch Jew who was known for his collection of works by Dutch masters of the 16th to 20th centuries.

Two years ago, the firm hired a provenance researcher to examine its entire collection. The van Dyck piece is among four from the Oetker collection that have been identified as possibly having been looted by the Nazis from their Jewish owners.

Dr. Oetker recently returned a painting by Hans Thoma to the heirs of Albert and Hedwig Ullmann.

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According to the dpa report this week, Goudstikker and his family fled Holland with the invasion of Nazi Germany in 1940. His employees sold his entire collection, including more than 1,000 images, at a hugely depressed price to Hermann Goring, a high-ranking Nazi official and commander of the German air force, and a partner. Meanwhile, Goudstikker suffered an accident on the ship that was to bring him to exile and died.

After the war, the remaining collection was given to Holland. In 2006, the Dutch government restored a trove of paintings from the collection to the family. The works reportedly were sold at auction a year later for $10 million, but some paintings from the collection had not been recovered.

According to the Oetker company, its founder, Rudolf-August Oetker, bought the van Dyck in 1956 from an art dealer who had purchased it from the Dutch government. By the time Oetker died in 2007, at 91, he reportedly had amassed a collection of several hundred paintings and objects.

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