Heirs of Jewish art collector join with German university to recover lost works

Toby Axelrod

BERLIN (JTA) — Heirs of legendary Jewish art collector Rudolf Mosse joined with a German university to track down works he once owned.

Mosse’s heirs joined with researchers at the Freie Universität Berlin to form the Mosse Art Research Initiative, or MARI. Details of the partnership, reportedly the first in which state entities and heirs have joined together to recover works from a private collection, were presented to the press in Berlin on Tuesday.

Under the agreement, MARI will spend the next two years trying to reconstruct a collection that once included thousands of works of art, from paintings to furniture. About 500,000 euros have reportedly been made available for the project.

Also participating in the project are the Cultural Foundation of the Federal States of Germany, the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation and the German Lost Art Foundation.

Mosse died in 1920 and his immediate heirs were forced to abandon much of their property in fleeing the Nazis. In 1934 parts of the Mosse collection, including art and furniture, were auctioned off in Berlin at two former family residences.

Clues exist about parts of the collection, according to a statement from the university. Auction catalogues from 1933 and earlier correspondence with artists have helped identify some of the missing works.

In the statement, the university said it plans to establish an online portal to publicize their work, enhance transparency and aid in their search.

The portal will “also represent a valuable contribution to the shaping of memorial culture in Germany,” the university’s public relations office said.