The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

February 19, 2014

A family's 70-year quest to regain treasures stolen by Nazis


Also dubious, Simon said, were exorbitant expense reimbursements his father had to pay to trustees a Dutch court had appointed to take charge of the family’s holdings while he and his sister tried to prove that their parents were in fact dead, and they the legal heirs.

One of the works that passed from the Monuments Men to the Dutch to Bernard Goodman was “Still Life: Tea Set,” a 1780s painting by the Swiss artist Jean-Etienne Liotard that now hangs in the J. Paul Getty Museum, which acquired it in 1984.

The Hals portrait that wound up in San Diego, and a Hieronymus Bosch painting, “The Temptation of St. Anthony,” now at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, may have been saved from looting — but nevertheless lost to the family — because Fritz Gutmann had sent them to be shown at an exhibition at the 1939 New York World’s Fair.

A dealer who’d been a party to the loan arrangement sold the paintings without the family’s knowledge or direct authorization after the war broke out, Simon Goodman said, but technically he’d been granted an “effective power of attorney,” giving him a legal right to proceed. Bernard Goodman found the dealer after the war and received a payment.

“(My father) was very sad about the whole thing,” Simon said, recalling the day in San Diego when he had opened up a bit.

As Nick and Simon Goodman took up the search — Nick as lead researcher in the early days, with Simon taking over in the early 2000s, when he sold his business and made the hunt his full-time job — they tapped resources unknown or inaccessible to their father.

The Monuments Men’s records, now housed at a National Archives and Records Administration facility in Maryland, became a belated ace, dealt at last to the hand of justice. The Army art specialists had filled out a file card for each art object they’d found and had created transcripts of their interrogations of captured German officers and civilian art dealers who’d worked for the two most prominent Nazi art-lovers — Adolf Hitler and Hermann Goering. Hitler stockpiled looted art for a museum he wanted to establish in his hometown of Linz, Austria.

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