Nov 26, 2008

Looted Matisse Handed Over to Charity

The AP reports this work, Le Mur Rose, a work by Matisse which was stolen from a Jewish family some time after 1937 by a Nazi officer has been given to a charity:




The story of how "Le Mur Rose," or "The Pink Wall," made its way through the war to France is as surprising as the colorful painting itself, and steeped with death, mystery and injustice. Stolen from Jews, proceeds from the expected sale of the painting will go toward the Magen David Adom network of ambulances, paramedics and emergency treatment centers in Israel.  "It's a remarkable and in some ways slightly creepy story," said Stuart Glyn, chairman of the British charity Magen David Adom UK. He will take delivery of the artwork at the French Culture Ministry in Paris.  The painting belonged to Harry Fuld, a German Jew who made his fortune in telephones, founding the H. Fuld & Co. Telefon und Telegraphenwerke AG in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1899, the charity says.
"The Fuld family were almost manic collectors, with the broadest of tastes," Glyn said in a phone interview...
Harry Fuld Jr. died in 1963 and for reasons unknown willed his estate to Gisela Martin, a woman who has remained something of a mystery in this saga. She in turn left her estate to the British charity when she died in Switzerland in 1992, which explains why Magen David Adom UK is now getting the Matisse.  Glyn said they have not been able to determine the nature of the relationship between Fuld and Martin, why he left her his estate or why Martin in turn made Magen David Adom the beneficiary of her will.  The Matisse is worth a "a good six-figure sum," but will first be displayed in a museum, said Glyn. He said he's in discussions with museums in Germany and Israel.  The charity is also trying to recover other parts of the Fuld collection, which included 12th-century Buddha statues, 16th-century Italian masters, furniture and other art, Glyn said."There are pieces in the Hermitage (museum in Russia), there are pieces in museums in Germany, there are pieces believe it or not in Israel," he said.
 The work had been displayed in France since 1949. 
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