Heirs of the De Stijl painter Piet Mondrian are disputing the ownership of a painting in the permanent collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The plaintiffs of the estate claim the £40m painting was looted by the Nazis and are seeking restitution for the painting titled ‘Composition with Blue’ (1926), housed in the PMA’s collection for 70 years.
The provenance of the diamond-shaped canvas states it was consigned to the art dealer Sophie Küppers in 1927. It was then loaned to a museum in Hanover, Germany, where the National Socialist authorities stole it in 1937.
In 1939, the American collector A. E. Gallatin purchased it from the Buchholz Gallery in New York, a gallery specialising in “degenerate” artworks condemned but sold off by the Nazis. Gallatin bequeathed his collection to the PMA in 1952.
On Friday, a complaint was filed in Philadelphia by the trustees of the Elizabeth McManus Holtzman Irrevocable Trust, the children of Elizabeth McManus Holtzman, and American painter Harry Holtzman. They sponsored Mondrian’s immigration to New York to escape Nazi persecution. After Mondrian died in 1944, Holtzman was named his executor and the sole heir to his estate.
Banksy Releases T-Shirt To Support Colston Four
Banksy has released a limited-edition t-shirt to raise funds for the four protesters arrested after a statue in Bristol was toppled last year. The criminal damage case involves the statue of Edward Colston, a 17th-century merchant and slave trader.
“Next week, the four people charged with pulling down Colston’s statue in Bristol are going on trial,” the Bristol-based artist stated on his Instagram page last Saturday. “I’ve made some souvenir shirts to mark the occasion.”
The sold out shirts were priced at £25 and available at various places around the city. The artist said that all proceeds from the sales would go to the defendants “so they can go for a pint.”
The Colston Four are aged between 21 and 36 and named as, Rhian Graham, Jake Skuse, Sage Willoughby, and Milo Ponsford. All are facing trial for criminal damage to public property. They have all pleaded not guilty and will stand trial at Bristol crown court this month.
More Cornelius Gurlitt Kunstmuseum Collection Restitution
Two more works from the notorious Cornelius Gurlitt collection will be returned to their rightful heirs by the end of the year. The watercolours by Otto Dix, Dompteuse and Dame in der Loge were painted in 1922. The descendants of Ismar Littmann and Paul Schaefer have successfully claimed the paintings on paper that were forcibly taken from the collectors by Nazis between 1933 and 1945.
The Museum will also surrender thirty further works that have weak provenances for the time period between 1933 and 1945. “This is a good moment for us,” Museum director Nina Zimmer said. “We want to show people how we deal with works of unclear provenance in the future.” “The next problem is fundraising: the Museum says that to continue its research into Gurlitt’s collection, it will need approximately a quarter million Swiss Francs ($271,447) each year in government funding”.
The paintings are part of the 1,600 work collection Gurlitt bequeathed to the Museum upon his death in 2014. The Kunstmuseum Bern made the decision last week. Nina Zimmer, the institution’s director, said, “We are dedicated to finding fair and just solutions.”
Since Gurlitt’s death in 2014, over 1600 donated works have had their provenance forensically explored. This includes works by Henri Matisse, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Claude Monet, Paul Gauguin, Paul Cézanne, and Camille Pissarro, worth an estimated £100m.
The Gurlitt collection will be presented in the exhibition “Taking Stock: Gurlitt in Review” at the Bern institution from September 16, 2022, to January 15, 2023.