Nazi-looted masterpieces to hit auction block after return to Jewish owners

Nazi-looted masterpieces to hit auction block after return to Jewish owners

During World War II, it is estimated that the Nazis looted about 100,000 pieces of art during their occupation of France.

By World Israel News Staff

Three neo-impressionist pieces of artwork looted by the Nazis from a Jewish collector during World War II  will be auctioned at Sotheby’s auction house on Feb. 4, reports The Guardian.

The pieces belonged to a Jewish art collector in Paris named Gaston Levy, from whom the Nazis stole two pieces painted by Paul Signac and another by Camille Pissarro.

Sotheby’s auctioneer Thomas Boyd-Bowman told The Guardian that Camille Pissarro’s “Gelée blanche, jeune paysanne faisant du feu” (“Peasant girl lighting a fire”) is expected to be sold for 12 million euros, while Paul Signac’s “Quai de Clichy, Temps Gris” (“Clichy dock, gray weather”) is expected to go for 800,000 euros, and Signac’s “La Corne d’Or” (“The golden horn”) is expected to fetch between five and seven million euros.

According to the report, the stolen Pissarro masterpiece and Signac’s “La Corne d’Or” were discovered shortly after World War II and placed in the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. While the second stolen Signac was discovered in the collection of German art dealer Hildebrand Gurlitt.

In 2017, Germany returned the “Quai de Clichy” to Levy’s heirs and in 2018 France returned the Pissarro and second Signac.

“It’s a pity for the Musée d’Orsay to lose these paintings, but it’s a good example of a country acting in an honorable fashion. It’s the right thing to do,” Boyd-Bowman told The Guardian. “Looting and vandalism should not profit others.”

During World War II, it is estimated that the Nazis looted about 100,000 pieces of art during their occupation of France, of which some 61,000 pieces were returned after the war.