Saturday 15 September 2018

Looted Art Retuns to Poland; Buyers Lose Out Through US Market Irrespomnsibility

Two responsible US collectors fell victim to the irresponsible practices on the international art market, dealers and auction houses routinely fail to check how the objects they handle came onto the market:
Deputy Prime Minister and Culture Minister Piotr Gliński (R),
US Ambassador to Poland Georgette Mosbacher (3L),
Craig Gilmore (2L) and David Crocker (L) during the handing-over ceremony at the National Museum
 in Warsaw, September 14th, 2018.  Radek Pietruszka/PAP
A 17th century painting looted by Nazi occupiers during WWII has been returned to the National Museum in Warsaw.
The painting, Portrait of a Lady by Flemish artist Melchior Geldorp, was recovered after it was found at the home of two men living in Los Angeles. Actor and opera singer Craig Gilmore and visual artist David Crocker unwittingly bought the artwork 12 years ago at an auction in New York. They took it home and there it stayed on their wall for nearly a decade, becoming ‘a spiritual member of the family.’ Then two years ago, following an investigation by the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage and the USA’s Homeland Security, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, officials arrived saying that their favourite possession was actually an art-piece looted by Nazi Germany from Poland during WWII. Geldorp’s Portrait of a lady had been in public collections in Warsaw from 1935 until the outbreak of WWII. It had been purchased by the city together with a collection of 94 other paintings. Upon hearing the news stunned Gilmore and Crocker immediately agreed to hand the painting back.
Jacek Borowski, 'From LA dining room to Warsaw’s National Museum: Looted WWII art returned after more than 70 years' The firstNEWS, Sept 15, 2018

Polish culture suffered immense damage to its cultural property during WWII. Most of the valuable artworks – it is estimated that as much as 70 percent of what Poland used to possess before the war - were completely destroyed. Many of them as a result of deliberate action related to a campaign of ethnic cleansing. Thousands of masterpieces were looted by German troops and officials and taken out of Poland before the war ended. Many have never been found.

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